Friday, July 3, 2009

We are going, heaven knows where we are going ...

Water Justice Road Trip II is coming!!! Register at

Where are we going? Here's a quick peek:

San Jose, Monterey, lobby in Sacramento, Delta tour, Oroville Dam ... and jumping into the water whenever we can! We are still finalizing our itinerary, so check back here for more info!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Road Trip for Justice II - August 3-9, 2009!!!

Save the date! Our Next Road Trip for Justice is August 3-9, 2009.

Registration info will be online soon at

Hope to see you there!


Monday, August 11, 2008

1,965 miles

We started out our trip singing, "We are going, heaven knows where we are going ..." and boy, did we ever go!

I drove a total of 1,965 miles, from South Pasadena to Sacramento to McCloud and all the way back down again. It was an amazing, incredible journey and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it.

There we are in the picture, proudly wearing our UULMCA t-shirts, just after we led the Sunday worship service at UU Church of Fresno (Aaron is not in the photo, he must have been doing something with the video equipment).

That morning, we preached what we had been practicing and learning all week. We shared our struggles, enlightenments, sorrows and joys that met us along our travels. I think it's safe for me to speak for all when I say that we have been changed forever.

Those young adults are headed back to their congregations, schools and communities (and India and Latin America!) energized and ready. They are ready to work with congregational leadership to find ways to bring back all they have learned.

Thank you Lindi, Aaron, Sonya, Julia, Glenn, Samantha, Judy, Sarah, Ian, Glade, Thea, Katharine, and James. You have helped me know the world in a deeper way.

Everyone else - watch out! We are doing Young Adult UU Road Trip II: Water Justice from Central Valley down to the border next year. Be a part of it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Westlands Water District

Chris Eacock, super cool UU from the Fresno Church (he runs a bike shop that helps homeless people fix up their bikes, in addition to working for the Department of Reclamation), toured us around the West Valley (not west valley LA, but west part of the central valley).

For years I've zoomed up the 5 freeway, never thinking too much about the miles and miles of agriculture I'm passing, just thinking about my final destination (if San Franciso I'm probably dreaming about the amazing vegan chocolate cupcakes at Herbivore).

Turns out much of the land on either side of the 5 is part of Westlands Water District. Did you know there is only one actual community in the whole of Westlands Water District? All the rest of corporate-owned agriculture. And that whole central valley used to be a huge inland sea, thousands of years ago, which means there is a lot of salt in the soil and also in the groundwater.

Contrast the 5 to the small farms that hug highway 99, which runs almost parallel to 5 (they come together just north of the grapevine). Along 99 are smaller orchards, farms with more diversity in what is planted. Nearer the 5 are fields and fields of monocrops, things like cotton, alfafa, and corn. The cotton and alfafa are very water intensive (and we are growing them in the desert because ...?), and the corn and alfafa being grown is fed exclusively to cows. As I wrote in an earlier post, there are 1600 dairies in the central valley, and the smallest dairies have around 8000 cows. So that is at least 12,800,000 cows. Each cow poops around 40 pounds per day (this is a direct quote from a rancher I met at last November's California Water Policy Conference in LA). That is 512,000,000 pounds of cow poop in the central valley every single day!

And why should any of us care about all that pooh? Besides the horrible smell (ever driven by cowschwitz on the 5?), cow manure releases a considerable amount of methane gas, one of the greenhouse gases that is contributing to global climate change.

And yes, Chris's shirt in the picture does indeed say "poop," but he's not making a statement about cows - it's a great political shirt and the poop stands for something like people against outrageous oil profits ... Chris, if you read this - please comment and tell us what the acronym means!
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Saturday, August 9, 2008

a jolt of privilege

Thursday we hauled down I-5 and 99 through the Central Valley into Fresno, and Friday we drove on into Visalia. We had wonderful hosts at the UU Fellowship of Visalia who served us a yummy potluck meal, provided home hospitality, and let some of us sleep peacefully in their church nestled among walnut orchards.

Before going to sleep and eating dinner last night, we had an opportunity to visit local organizers in small towns near Visalia. At the helm was Susanna, an amazing woman leader at the Community Water Center (CWC) in Visalia who is working like crazy to bring the water issues to the political forefront.

As we started our gathering with CWC, they asked us to introduce ourselves and say whether or not we ever buy bottled water. Yours truly got really puffed up because guess what? I made a commitment a couple of years ago to not buy bottled water. And I'm pretty proud that I drink tap water.

But guess what else? Drinking tap water is a *privilege* because there are people in California (poor with brown skin) who cannot drink the water that comes out of the tap.

Let me repeat - there are people in California who own their own homes, who work, who have families, who have children in school, who cannot drink or cook with the water that comes out of their own kitchen sink. They pay around $70.00 month for public water they cannot drink, and spend an additional $40-80.00 a month for bottled water.

Why? One reason is the groundwater used for their water (in East Orosi and Tooleville) is contaminated with harmful levels of nitrates. The cause? Likely it's seeping in from the 1600 dairies located in the Central Valley, from old septic tanks, and fertilizer from agriculture.

What is the responsibility of the rest of us who never have to think about nitrates when we turn on the tap?

What does it mean that clean water traveling in aqueducts, fed by mountain snow packs, passes right by these communities but they cannot tap into it because it is already allocated for agriculture use?

And for those 22 million people living in southern California, what does it mean that a huge amount of our water travels down to us, via canals and aqueducts, over 600 miles?

Water - it's so beautiful, so vital, so essential, and oh so complicated.

Reflections from the Sacremento Headwaters

Going back in time a few days (or was it weeks? it's hard to tell time on the road like this) ...

We journaled as part of the worship service on the banks of the Sacramento Headwaters, and to the right of this blog entry, you can read three of the reflections by Thea, Judy and Katharine. They are really beautiful and give a much better sense of the awe we were feeling while we were in that sacred place.