"We're All Us"
Ben Schill after Last Night’s Community Meeting
When communities gather together to finally take action on a sore subject, the mood is often angry and aggressive. But, when between 40 and 50 community members assembled last night for a discussion about the effect, both physical and social, of diesel on our environment, the mood was quiet, thoughtful, and inclusive. “We’re all us,” Jonelle Friedkin-Monschke, long time resident explained in an effort to describe her belief that indoor/outdoor or non growers, all were part of our neighborhood. The desire seemed to be to find ways to encourage local diesel growers and suppliers of diesel to move away from harmful environmental practices to safer and ultimately solar options. (Though there was acknowledgment that growing in whatever form, if done in large amounts, was going to put a strain on the local watersheds as crucial aquifers are drained to support marijuana gardens.) Local attorney Herb Schwartz mirrored the general consensus with these words, “I don’t think a punitive approach is the right way to think about this.”
The meeting contained both of the Second District Supervisor candidates, Clif Clendenen and Estelle Fennell, noted local activists such as Sue Maloney and Man Who Walks in the Woods, as well as the highly respected employee, Karl Terrell, of local business and diesel distributer, Renner Petroleum. KMUD was also there with plans to discuss the meeting this morning on a call-in talk show between 7 and 9 am. There were other members of the media there also including Cristina Bauss, a local reporter and blogger and there was a former LA Times reporter there as well in the area writing a book dealing with marijuana.
Community members related experiences with diesel grows. Ben Schill, well known local history and nature buff, spoke of how 20 years ago a 200 gallon diesel tank flushed into a creek upstream from his home. “I can still see the damage that was done.” According Schill, some of the results were Alder trees dieing along the creek. Shill said he is just now seeing a restoration of the area.
Man Who Walks in the Woods held the room captive as he related the habits of the Great Horned Owl and how this magnificent bird’s population has dwindled over the years locally. The owl lives on ridges and semi open areas. There, they listen for the rustle of mice or other prey in the grass. However, according to Woods, when generators started being increasingly common in the hills, the owl population crashed. “How is an owl going to hear a mouse over the sound of a generator?”
Many solutions to the diesel problem were proffered. Some focused on educating the consumer about the superior qualities and “eco groovy” nature of the outdoor varieties of marijuana. Others on informing the grower on the harmful effects of indoor diesel grows. Suggestions ranged from small one on one friendly talks with indoor growers to music festivals with an outdoor marijuana theme and booths featuring information on how to make indoor grows safer and how to grow outside more profitably.
One local solution drew applause from the crowd after Karl Terrell, Renner Petroleum employee addressed the group. He spoke of “the 60 years we try to do the right thing” at Renner. He spoke of the lack of legislation to force diesel tank manufacturers to make only the safer double wall tanks and suggested the group work to change the law but then, he added that, after to listening to the community’s concerns, he was going to ” recommend to the owner to stop selling single wall tanks” even if this damaged their business. “We don’t want to hurt the environment.”
A sign up sheet was available to volunteer for varying groups working toward a solution.