Thursday, June 27, 2013

Letter to my County Legislator, Peter Harckham

I just read a letter from my county legislator, Peter Harckham, a dear friend and excellent public servant.   In it he lambasted our  Westchester county executive Rob Astorino for not doing his job. You can read it Here.

Here is my reply to Peter:

Hi Peter,
hope you're doing well!
Sorry I won't be able to make your fundraiser, but I'm sending my best to you with my good friend Lisa Silver.

I read your Astorino critique in the local paper and I must agree with you 1000%.
The man is an outrage. 
And the people who swallow his fear mongering swill, function out of fear and ignorance.  

Affordable housing is for our adult children, our senior parents, our first responders, our teachers, and if he and his swillers can't see that, then it's up to you (sorry) to make that evident to the folks of Westchester, perhaps the most expensive county to live in,  in the USA. 
My ex and I subsidize our two adult children's living arrangements!  It's not fair to any of us!  At their age, my husband and I owned our own first home and were starting a small family.  They won't have that opportunity  for years to come! 

Here's the sad catch, however.  It won't matter if there are 700 units of 7000 affordable housing units if, as you  mention, we don't address waste water, land use, and energy. (Not to mention foreclosure rates!)

As long as we insist on building ANY new homes or apartments with outdated systems (like any house being built right now, for instance) and methods, and not Grey water systems, composting toilets and solar water heaters and pumps,  then we are just digging ourselves deeper into the mess of predicaments we are already  embedded in. 

If we are to make any kind of dent in our collective carbon footprints, and get on the path to some kind 
of sustainability (whatever that means anymore) it must come with any new construction. 
ALL new construction should be required at the very LEAST, to have grey water systems,
composting toilets, permaculture based grounds and gardens, and solar water heaters and pumps.
Not to mention construction materials should be sustainable and durable to last longer than a decade, and be cold and heat insulating, water resistant and hurricane resistant.  
It's just a no-brainer.   And I haven't heard PEEP about that from anyone! Not even the greenies!  
NWEAC and SWEAC barely give lip service to these types of improvements. Everyone seems fixated on solar panels and renewable energy, talk a lot about hydrofracking,  but have forgotten our basic bodily functions. 
We are perpetual waste machines.  It's as simple as that and we need to address that reality… Now. 

But that's only if we want to get to the next decade without going extinct… 
(We are in the 6th great extinction & it's far more accelerated than the one the Dinosaurs experienced which took 30,000-80,000 years to complete…Some scientists expect ours to take a few hundred years or less!...)

It's that critical!  And you know it and I know it. 

And anyway, it's probably too late regardless of what we do, but it's worth a try to save SOMETHING of the planet for our girls.  Naturally, closing Indian Point before energy collapse happens, is a priority for many of us.  It takes energy to run the darn thing.  Anything could knock it out.  Anything!
EMP, solar flare, earthquake, hurricane, nut jobs, a boring old power outage, etc.  What happens when that power grid goes off?   Poof.  Tens of millions of people and their property gone. 
And Entergy owners living far away get to shake their heads at us sadly, "It was inconceivable that could happen!"  
Riiiiight.  Meanwhile, we subsidize their greed with our lives and our land.   Outrageous arrangement. 

But I digress..

The climate predictions are dire and the food system is in serious jeopardy. Which is why I say ANY new housing needs to incorporate a permaculture food system.  Fruit trees, not ornamental trees.
Berry bushes and diverse evergreen ground covers, not a monoculture of grass, though it should be included. 
Zoning to allow for chickens, bees, miniature goats and the like; rather than raking nice people like me over the coals for keeping four pathetic chickens on nearly half an acre.  
 (Seriously.   That was annoying.  And I'm still angry and hurt and I won't forget or forgive...)
 Perennial plantings that are edible super foods, like  Asparagus, Rhubarb, Elderberry,Honey berry, Hardy Kiwi, etc. etc. etc.  
And offering people the training to care for their new  living arrangements,  a truly sustainable living arrangement that bonds them to their community, to their homes and to the land. Actually being LOCAL, and not just tossing the words around. Like so many do.  

 The old outdated thinking that sees lawns as a sign of prestige, potable water good to waste on human waste,  septic tanks as practical, water as coming only from a tap (on site ponds and rain water barrels are alternate sources) &  fluoridated and chlorinated,  or garbage as something to be disappeared rather than composted, needs to be eviscerated from our minds and from our midst.   We need a new fresh start!  

But again, only if we want to make it to the next decade… Or maybe even the next year…

I noticed this spring a dearth of squirrels and no chipmunks in Katonah.  I saw my first two squirrels finally last week. 
Still no chipmunks however and I'm outside a lot. These are the small signs of bigger problems closing in. 
The canaries in the coal mine are dropping like flies… 

The West is about to hit the hottest temps in history and that won't be good for food crops that
we depend on as a nation. Last year farmers were feeding their cattle candy because they had NO corn or feed.  Many slaughtered their cattle prematurely so they would have enough feed for the surviving cattle. 
We are in a ten year drought cycle.   I remind you that the Dust Bowl drought was only seven years long… 
 Once the food prices spike, we won't be able to get anything done. 
No affordable housing, no composting toilets, no solar panels, no Hilltop Hanover Farm, no parks, no sewers, no deer maintenance, no highway funding, no nothing. 

And you know what will happen when oil spikes again…   
Great Recession?  Ha!  
You think we can bear another Great Depression on top of the one we are still in? Regardless of the claims that we have been out of it for a few years, my friends, family and I are just not seeing it.  Our many diverse attempts at devising new sources of income can attest to what we're actually seeing, compared to what we are being TOLD  we are seeing.   You can't fool all of the people all of the time. And I don't mean YOU, personally, I mean the Obama administration. 

I have just about run out of hope for our species and need something to hope for.   
Peter, my friend, how can we who are connected to the land and to our communities and practicing actual sustainable living methods and local economics help you?

Please let me know, because I can see you guys and gals "running" things need a heck of a lot of help right now… 

If nothing else, some need a whack on the back of the head.  I'm ready, willing and able for that job. 
I am a mom, after all, we get lots of practice whacking kids across the back of heads. Lovingly, of course. 

With warm regards

Pauline Schneider

The video embedded features Dr Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of University of Arizona giving a lecture on climate change and Near Term Human Extinction predicted to occur in the next decade or two. You read that right... You can find out more at his blog, Nature Bats Last

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