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from the Redwood Empire
Town Hall Coalition Annual Report -- 2003
Town Hall Coalition's mission is to build a social movement that
promotes ecologically and economically healthy communities through
responsible land use.
value do we place on the things we share in common? Public schools,
libraries, national forests, parks, education, health care, gifts
of nature like air and water, human knowledge and experience,
science and culture form the basis of humanity's common wealth.
Without them we could not breathe, drink or create. We call them,
collectively, "the commons."
recent Ecotrust (ecotrust.org) publication states that we have
forgotten how to recognize the commons and act like the rightful
owners of these riches. "The stewardship of our shared inheritance
is embedded in our religious traditions, and laws about commons
date back to Roman times. Some early American states called themselves
"Commonwealths" and made the government responsible
to care for that common property for generations yet to come."
days our commons are threatened as never before. Elected representatives
are breaking the public trust and selling off our collectively
held lands, schools, forests and water and running others into
the ground. The message to future generations seems to be "We
are spending our children's common inheritance and some day none
of this will be yours."
we look closely, our commons are still there for us to claim and
protect. It is time to Reclaim the Commons! We own the sky, fresh
water, knowledge and culture, our airwaves, internet, quiet, and
public spaces. Public spaces such as parks, libraries, schools,
sidewalks and streets furnish the platform on which community
and democracy flourish. When we sell off and privatize our public
spaces, such as Harmony School in Occidental, we unravel the very
fabric that holds our communities together.
members of Town Hall Coalition urge all of you to elect decision-makers
who will protect the common good for generations to come. Or better
yet, run for office yourself and assume responsibility to protect
our common heritage and build a common future where everyone can
live and thrive. Get involved. Now is the time!
Raffle - Great Prizes
First Prize - Two night's stay at the View Crest Lodge overlooking
the Humboldt coastline in beautiful Trinidad!
Second Prize - Dinner for Two at Cape Fear Cafe in Duncans Mills
Third Prize - Free Kayak Rental for up to Four Persons on the
Russian River - courtesy of Russian River Outfitters in Duncans
will extend throughout the year and culminate in the Fall with
a Special Event where prizes will be drawn. Enclosed raffle tickets
are $2 each or 10 tickets for $15. Just fill out your contact
information on the tickets, keep the duplicates and return the
number of tickets you want with your payment donation in the return
envelope provided. Raffle proceeds benefit the Redwood Empire
Environmental Center Programs and Scholarship Fund. Make checks
out to Town Hall Coalition at the address below.
Hall Coalition PO Box 1005 Occidental, CA 95465 Ph 707 874-9110
F 707 874-2579 firstname.lastname@example.org www.townhallcoalition.org
the Commons - Forests and Water
Forest Protection Program
Town Hall Coalition was formed in response to the rapid conversion
of forestland in 1997. Since that time, we have continued to advocate
for increased protection throughout the Redwood Empire. This year,
Town Hall Coalition has embarked on continued efforts to preserve
and protect the Redwood Empire from what we perceive as the biggest
threat to our environment and our communities. A large portion
of our action plan for this effort is currently focused on ensuring
that the Sonoma County General Plan includes a proposal that would
prohibit the conversion of 3 acres or more of timberland throughout
the rural and coastal areas of Sonoma County.
June of 2003, our efforts produced a major victory when the Citizen's
Advisory Committee for the Sonoma County General Plan voted 7-4
in favor of Option 3, which would extend protection to over 80%
of Sonoma County's timberland against the conversion to vineyards
and other uses. Town Hall Coalition organized a diverse coalition
of businesses, farmers, grape growers,
environmental organizations, and individuals on a grassroots campaign
to educate and activate citizens to take part in supporting this
historic effort. We look forward to working with members and supporters
to ensure the passage of this important protection measure as
it moves onward to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors,
who are expected to act on it later this year.
Hall Coalition members also commented and participated in two
critical Timber Harvest Plans during their Second Review Hearings
at the California Department of Forestry. THP 1-02-216 SON, which
led to the formation of the Pocket Canyon Protection Group, poses
a serious threat to a community water supply and tributary to
the Russian River. The hillside conversion plan is also dangerously
prone to landslides, with the potential of endangering numerous
residents who live downhill. THP 1-00-484 SON, also known as the
Haupt Creek THP near Annapolis, contains significant stands of
old growth redwood, a rarity in Sonoma County aside from being
some of the last areas of critical habitat for marbled murrelets
and red tree voles.
Wine Protest Hits the Streets
In response to a pending 105 acre conversion in the heart of the
redwood forest just outside of Annapolis, Town Hall Coalition
joined up with the coastal forest alliance and other allies to
engage in street theater events which included an 8-foot tall
chainsaw-yielding wine bottle threatening to cut redwood trees
(designed by Coastal Forest Alliance).
purpose of these events is to educate citizens of this pending
forest conversion to vineyards and potential ecological catastrophe.
Artesa Vineyards, based in Napa, is actually owned by Cordorniu,
a Spanish Corporation reported to be the third largest in the
world. This particular project represents a significant shift
in terms of size and scope of its predecessors, and a dangerous
precedent in terms of moving from small-scale farming to large-sized
and internationally financed forest destruction and industrial
vineyard development. Look for the Chainsaw Wine on the streets
at a town near you!
the Public Trust
Water Rights and Privatization
Shortly after a proposal to bag water from the mouths of two North
Coast Rivers was defeated, the Gualala and Albion Rivers were
both awarded the designation of being Wild and Scenic Rivers under
Assembly Bill 1168, signed into law this year and introduced by
Assemblywomen Patty Berg and Patricia Wiggins. Town Hall Coalition
officially supported this Bill and we thank everyone who lent
support to this historic outcome.
the threat of water commodification by outside interests continues,
and Town Hall Coalition has set its sights on Ric Davidge and
the newly-renamed Aqueous Corporation's latest proposal to transport
water from the Mad River in Humboldt County using the same waterbag
technology. A coalition of environmental groups quickly formed
in response to this latest project, aptly named the Coalition
to Stop the Mad River Waterbags, and an eleven page letter was
presented by an attorney from the Western Environmental Law Center
outlining our concerns. Town Hall Coalition also initiated postcards
for citizens to fill out in opposition. The response resulted
in the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District shelving the issue,
though not voting to specifically reject it. The coalition has
continued to meet and confer over this vital issue, as it is sure
to reappear in the near future.
Change and Redwoods - A New Threat to our Forests
Town Hall Coalition kicked off a public educational series spotlighting
the ecology and health of coastal redwoods as well as the severity
of climate change-induced threats to these and other trees of
the Redwood Empire. In November we sponsored a presentation by
Dr. Reese Halter, founder and President of Global Forest Science,
a scientific research organization pioneering methods to determine
the causes and potential extent of catastrophic threats to forests
around the globe.
Halter's work with redwoods focuses on studying the serious problem
of redwoods top dieback, which is threatening the edges of the
few remaining redwood reserves throughout the California Coast.
Spring, Town Hall Coalition will feature a presentation by Save
Redwoods League on preservation priorities for coastal redwoods
throughout California. In the Fall, we will host Dr. Todd Dawson,
of the UC Berkeley-based Dawson Lab. to talk about the dynamics
of fog-drip collection and explain the current tests they are
performing on old-growth redwoods in the Grove of the Old Trees
just west of Occidental.
Hall Coalition Profit and Loss Summary
January through December 2003
Individual Donations $ 11,813
Donations, Other 3,000
Foundation Grants 3,000
Government Grants and Contracts 7,500
Total Income $33,618
Administration $ 3,846
Fund Raising 2,109
Climate Change/Global Warming $2,092
Protecting the Commons 1,791
Education and Outreach 3,185
Forest Protection 3,716
Town Hall Forums/Events 9,771
Participatory Democracy 1,440
Water Rights/Privatization 2,500
Total Programs $24,494
Net Income $3,169
Use and Participatory Democracy
Formation of the Redwood Empire Environmental Center Town Hall
Coalition has joined with other environmental groups to from the
Redwood Empire Environmental Center located above Howard's Station
Cafe in Occidental, Sonoma County. We continue to act as a powerful
vehicle for citizen advocacy, action and information. Staff and
members of the Town Hall Coalition submit comments for the public
record and appear before elected and regulatory bodies.
distribute Action Alerts, election information, newsletters, special
events, and information about community forums. We also respond
to citizen complaints by notifying elected officials, regulatory
agencies, and communities about potential dangers or developments
in or near their neighborhood.
have included illegal forest conversions, exposure to pesticide
spray or drift, contaminated wells, bird depredation by toxic
chemicals, destruction of riparian forests, fill or proposed development
of fragile wetlands, and illegal water appropriations.
the Public Record
Town Hall Coalition submitted comments or added public testimony
for the following items during 2003:
Fish and Wildlife Service in support of listing of California
Tiger Salamander as Endangered Species
- State Assembly in support of listing Albion and Gualala Rivers
as Wild and Scenic
- California Department of Forestry concerning Pocket Canyon Timber
Harvest Plan threatening community water supply
- City of Santa Rosa concerning Incremental Recycled Water Project
- Sonoma County General Plan Citizen's Advisory Committee (CAC)
supporting moratorium of timber conversions
- Submitted Coalition Letter from 21 Environmental Organizations,
Business Owners, Wine Growers, and Farmers into General Plan CAC
in support of Option 3 protecting forests from conversions
- Sebastopol City Council in support of Living Wage Ordinance.
Town Hall Coalition is a member of the Sonoma County Living Wage
- Sonoma County Agriculture and Open Space District and Board
Supervisors in favor of Willow Creek Land Acquisition
Town Hall Coalition has continued to push the idea that an informed
citizenry is the foundation of democracy. 2003 was quite the year
for exercising voting rights and making responsible choices. Town
Hall Coalition's role as part of our Participatory Democracy Campaign
is to provide information on issues pertaining to local elections
and promote citizen action. Our activities this past year include:
- Posted and distributed information about Local Special District
Elections, including information pertaining to where, when, and
how perspective candidates can run for these important offices.
- Published and distributed a Fact Sheet on the California Governor's
Election, which included important absentee ballot guidelines.
"I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the
chosen spot of all this earth as far as Nature is concerned."
Luther Burbank (From a letter sent home to Massachusetts, soon
after arriving in Sonoma County 1875)
Activism, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties
April 16th at the Sebastopol Veteran's Building 7:30 PM
Guest Speaker-Civil Rights Attorney, J. Tony Serra.
Empire Strikes Back
Fall Event - Date and Time to be announced.
Raffle Drawing - Festive Celebration - Live Music - Guest Speakers
Lily Bouquets to:
* Marimar Torres and Marimar Torres Estate Vineyards for their
full conversion to organic viticlture for their 60-acre Don Miguel
Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. Find out more at www.MarimarEstate.com/organic.htm.
Paul Dolan at Fetzer Vineyards for his commitment to sustainable
growing methods and innovations. Most of all for his support of
forest protection in Sonoma County.
Board of Directors
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