The MGH Report

Michael G. Haran, Proprietor

KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013


Commentary

Healdsburg Tribune

12/5/2013

After reading Rollie Atkinson’s editorial it got me thinking just how valuable the Tribune is to Healdsburg and I’m sure how the other Sonoma West Publishers’ weekly papers are to their communities.Healdsburg Tribune #1

Rollie did a good job of listing the paper’s features and their benefits. I had never before looked at ads as news but Rollie’s comment, “The butcher’s special at the grocery story is a big weekly headline for us,” caught my eye. The Big John’s Market back page ad is the first thing my wife looks at when the paper arrives at our house. I look at all the ads in the Business Directory to see who is still advertising and who is new to the section and doing what. I like to follow the activities of the business owners that I know.

I enjoy following the Healdsburg High’s sports teams especially the basketball teams. I play basketball on Saturday mornings at the high school gym which is monitored by Wayne Rudy for the Town’s Park and Rec Department. He is a long time junior high and high school basketball coach for both boys and girls and he regularly brings the younger kids to our pick-up games to play against the all-ages that play there. The kids I have gotten to know I follow their high school sports careers in the Tribune. The Saturday mornings are also an on-going mini reunion of sorts as many of the players that have graduated occasionally come back to play.

In an interview with the California Newspaper Publishers Association in 2012 Rollie said, “We have a very low turnover in most of our organization, except for our newsroom. Our wage level is terrible, but we do offer a great learning experience and lots of freedom to explore the craft and trade of writing and journalism. I think we’ve been very lucky to keep finding the level of talent we do.” When asked “What are some of the ways the industry can preserve newspapers in our communities?” he went on to say… cautiously (very cautiously) explore projects or relationships with civic journalists.”

When we moved here about eight years ago, I wrote my first Tribune Letter-to-the-Editor about little Christmas tree that would light up every night in a vineyard. I have since gone on to write commentary that has been published in not only the Tribune but also the Press Democrat and other publications. I have to say that the tribune has helped me, and others, become a commentary writers and “civic journalists.”

Now if you look at what is published every week in the Tribune such as public notices, obituaries, local news, what the town government is up to, event calendars, school-library-museum announcements, local columnists and editorials on local, state and national issues I too am amazed at what a bargain the paper is at 50 cents. I think it is quite easy to justify $1.00 a copy. I feel the real value is closer to $5.00 but unfortunately you wouldn’t sell many papers at that price.

The paper is not just a local resource. When I travel and stay in a new community the first thing I do is buy the local newspaper to get a lay of the land. Even though my stay will be short I can serendipitously immerse myself in local politics, culture and the business community. I’m sure many Healdsburg tourists have found their stay in our town more rewarding by picking up the Trib and reading it with their morning lattes.

This is some of what the Trib means to me. So in this Thanksgiving season we certainly should be thankful for having the Tribune and we have to support the local merchants that support our town newspaper. I’m sure Rollie is not getting rich running his little publishing empire but he is certainly making us the richer for having the Healdsburg Tribune.

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LET’S TAKE STEPS NOW TO SAVE THE PLANET

Posted by on Sep 18, 2013

Press Democrat 9/16/2013

 

Wow! Talk about organic and close to home. I have just finished reading a book entitled “The Great Disruption” by Paul Gilding who was CEO of Greenpeace for 20 years and is now a sustainability consultant to multinational companies.

In Sunday’s PD there were four articles: “Contrarians’ Viewpoint” states that in the worst case scenario there will be “jarring financial chaos” and a steady decline in global living standards caused by unsustainable debt and the end of cheap oil; a “Close to Home” article by Jane Vosburg pointed out that to avoid global catastrophe and preserve the planet we need to stop the fossil-fuel companies from spewing CO2 into the atmosphere and convert to sustainable energy sources; a Paul Krugman article “Failed policy wrought years of tragic waste” on how a lack of government stimulation caused a slowdown in economic growth and unnecessary unemployment; and an article “Vote near on energy zoning changes” on Sonoma County renewable energy development.Mikes Pic #15

All of these articles touch on points covered in the book. Global warming caused by CO2 is real and it will eventually make our planet uninhabitable; “Peak oil” will make fossil fuels so expensive it will collapse the world economy; the world’s growth economy is fast using up the planet’s resources; we need a new system that will provide for near full employment; we have to build communities
that can function in an era of limits; and it will take geopolitical action to convert to sustainable energy sources.

Gilding argues that what we have to do is change from a growth economy to a steady-state economy which is not predicated on retail shopping. The reasoning goes that by converting from a consumption growth economy we will stop chasing our tails in the pursuit of more and more stuff and spend the extra time we will have giving back to the community thus creating a better quality of life. He states that studies show that this type of life style will make us happier since we will have to work less and our creative free time will promote the positive evolution of mankind. Taggart feels the best place to be when this social upheaval happens is in Sebastopol.

A steady-state economy would convert a majority of jobs from growth oriented companies to cooperatives. Cooperatives now employ one hundred million people worldwide 20 percent more that multinational companies.

As Taggart, Martenson and Vosburg point out “peak oil” and continued CO2 emissions will collapse the global economy and destroy our planet as we know it. If we let this ecological and economic collapse happen Gilding says it will take an effort as massive as America’s entrance into WWII to save the planet. Fossil fuel companies will have to be wiped out and replaced with an enormous investment in sustainable fuel sources.

The alternative, as all sources point out, is to start the conversion off fossil fuel and change our life styles now. We need to divest ourselves from non-sustainable energy companies and invest in companies that could produce innovative solutions. For example, Freecycle Network’s seven million members give away unwanted useful goods to each other which reduces landfill waste and the need to buy new stuff. In Australia, the 1 Million Women Campaign was founded with the idea that since women make 70 percent of the consumer decisions they should take the lead in reducing carbon emission by taking simple easy steps.

In planning for local renewable energy development Sonoma County supervisors and city councilpersons seem to be providing the stated leadership that will be necessary to survive and transcend The Great Disruption.

 

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