By Jody Benson, Group newsletter editor
What happened with the bag?
Not enough of us showed up; Council didn’t have enough votes to pass the 10-cent fee; the Savethebaggers showed up in vocal droves. The motion that finally passed the Council was simply to “Continue to Educate.” The Republicans on the Council don’t want to “spend County money on a thing this trivial,” so the mandate is that it’s up to the citizens — you, us — to do the educating.
Save-the-baggers are already doing their educational darn-dest to proselytize that paying for a single-use shopping bag will infringe on their consumer freedom and cause the sidewalks to be paved in doggie doo (these are actual, loud objections). But those of us who care about the Earth are not giving up either, and the good news? Since the Council’s rejection, as we continue to participate in informational tabling events, we have heard from people who were actually educated from our efforts, as in: “I never really thought of it before, but I’m trying to remember my own bags.”
Keep talking about it. Sooner or later it’ll happen; the Earth cannot sustain this suffocating amount of waste. We hope our not-so-progressive town won’t be the last in America to join the concerned of the world.
Annual Beer & Brats
After all the strategy sessions, the letters to the editor and op-eds, after hours of meetings with the Sustainability Board and County Council — after our initial setback when the Council blew the bag down the road yet again, about 30 Pajarito members and guests joined to re-energize and re-Group at the annual Beer, Brats, and (vegetarian-option) Burgers Picnic.
Chapter Chair David Coss reiterated the four focus areas: water, wildlife, public lands, and climate, and as he listed the Chapter successes, he reminded us that every success depends on years — decades — of dedicated struggle. And even when we smack headlong into a brick wall (or into Mary Katherine Ray’s thousand guns defending the pile of corpses from coyote-killing contests, or Pajarito’s smash into Save-the-baggers’ 24/7 blog), with the Sierra Club’s expertise and commitment behind us, we can bang our heads until, brick by brick, the wall falls down.
Coss also reminded us that the success of our issues depends on whatever administration controls the state or nation. If we want to continue to Enjoy the Planet, we must Protect it; at minimum, add your voice to the online action alerts calling for protections for public lands, water, and wildlife, for reducing fossil fuels by choosing job-creating, local clean energy, and legislating mandatory reduction of bag waste in Los Alamos. The act of being informed, then working for the candidate who will represent your issue, voting for that candidate, and continuing to be engaged with whoever is in power, is critical.
Finally, don’t neglect your passion. Work for what you love. If you love wildlife, you can dedicate your life to saving the bear, cougar and coyote, the elk, otter, cutthroat, and eagle. All those hours of saving lives will have meaning. Public lands? Clean energy? All of the above? The effort is toward love, not just frustration or impotent rage. Plenty of people share your passion, and many of them will be willing to work with you. Commit to your passion — even for a few hours a week — and watch your world change along with the hearts and minds of those whom you rally to the cause. Contact any of our Executive Committee members or Issues Chairs listed below to spread the love.
The Parable of the Bison
Over extreme chocolate cake with royal icing at the end of the picnic, Dave and Donna Gemeinhart told this story:
Driving through Yosemite they saw in the distance something like a mirage of traffic shimmering within the heat haze of car exhaust. As they approached, the first thing they were able to make out was the behemoth of a Winnebago moving at what seemed like an inch a minute. Then they saw what truly led the line — a huge bull bison, walking smack dab down the middle of the road.
With a wink and a nod, the bull passed the Gemeinharts’ now-motionless car. He turned to grin at them, his huge black head filled with the inherited memory of how, 140 years ago, men with guns shot his ancestors to near extinction from trains, to leave the plains soaked in blood and the Native Americans without sustenance.
“But,” said his grin, “We’re still here.”
Despite the fact that black swaths of asphalt have replaced the black herds of bison, despite that tract homes for humans have replaced habitat for antelope and black-footed ferrets, and that gas development replaced prairie grouse and grass — because of the far-sightedness of a few committed leaders, there are still territories wherein dwell astonishments.
And on he walked, momentarily replacing a long line of insignificant human goals and deadlines with the experience of awe and wonder. Progress? What defines it? The electronic device demanding your attention? The speed of your Wi-Fi? Eliminating nature and all the great beasts to make a road faster and parking lots bigger?
Remember me, he says, and how this slow walk transformed your soul.
Pajarito Group Meetings
Our open meetings are on the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in UNMLA, Building 200, Room 203.
Nov. 4: Robert Gibson, chair of the Los Alamos Future Energy Resources Committee, presents: “Future Energy Resources for Los Alamos County.”
Los Alamos County’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) adopted a goal in 2013 to “become a carbon-neutral electric provider by 2040.” This year, BPU appointed an ad hoc Future Energy Resources (FER) Committee to recommend a definition of “carbon-neutral,” future electrical energy resources in that context, and policy regarding distributed energy generation (i.e., “rooftop solar”). This talk will summarize LA County’s overall energy use, energy supplies, and carbon emissions, and then outline the study and recommendations of the FER Committee.
Dec. 2: Update on the Smart Grid Project. The Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization teamed to develop smart-grid technology — new-generation electrical power networks that efficiently control and balance the supply and demand of power through digital information that integrates small and large-scale renewable energy sources. This project terminated on March 31. Please come hear about the results of this unique, truly progressive collaboration. (See https://www.losalamosnm.us/workspaces/one.aspx?objectid=7215119&contextId=7215081)
Who wants to show the movie “Bag It”?
The Pajarito Group has the DVD (with public screening license) for the movie Bag It — the film that inspired us to take on the effort to Ban the Bag Los Alamos.
This DVD is available to be shown to clubs or house parties. If you would like to reserve it, please email Mark Jones: Jonesmm1@comcast.net.
Photo by Michael Di Rosa