Letters to the Editor:November 13, 2012

Beyond the Hootenanny

You made an excellent decision when you chose to shine a Boho Award spotlight on Josh Windmiller of North Bay Hootenanny (“Honoring the Arts,” Nov. 7). For years, Josh has unflaggingly nurtured the folk-Americana community in Sonoma County, creating a vibrant scene where new artists can matriculate from open mics to headline slots at the Mystic Theatre and into radio airplay.

Not only is Josh a tireless booster of great local music and roots culture, but he is an abundantly productive artist in his own right. He is the creative force behind the Crux, who in 2012 released a full-length CD, played dozens of gigs large and small—including a tour of the Northwest—and were voted Best Americana Band by readers of this august journal.

Lastly, I was privileged to work closely with Josh on This Train: A Woody Guthrie 100th Birthday Jubilee, which attracted thousands of folks to Railroad Square this summer to take in headliner Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and a dozen local artists. I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years on a lot of big projects, but working with Josh was a rare pleasure and privilege. His commitment to the music and the experience is uncompromising; his drive, determination, and sheer hard work are a marvel to behold, and still, somehow, he remains unfailingly thoughtful, upbeat and kind.

Simply put, Josh is a treasure, and we’re lucky to have him. Thanks for giving him his due in your pages.


Thanks for writing, Dale! While we’re on the subject, now’s a good time to mention that the photo of Josh in last week’s paper was shot by Brian Howlett.—The Ed.

Local Is Lovely

Local food systems all over the United States face challenges and threats. Organic farmers in Sonoma County have to compete with commercial superstores, economic incentives that favor big business and consumers who are misinformed on what is local and good for the environment. This means there’s a constant price difference between commercial produce and local organic produce.

Local farms aren’t getting any help from the government and have to deal with small business taxes that make their business just that much harder to keep afloat. Shoppers are tricked by million-dollar ad campaigns into buying food at the “local” Walmart, drawing business away from the local economy.

But people here in Sonoma County are starting to get the picture. They are appreciating and purchasing more local grass-fed beef and dairy. Local restaurants create seasonal menus that correspond with the local harvests so they can buy from organic farms year-round, and some restaurants even have their own farms! Not to mention the growing sizes of farmers markets.

According to Michael Shuman’s paper “The Competitiveness of Local Living Economies,” “Local ownership in business pumps up the multiplier effect of every local dollar spent, which increases local income, wealth, jobs, taxes, charitable contributions, economic development, tourism, and entrepreneurship.” Every time we spend that extra dollar to buy something grown or raised local, we are boosting our economy and our own health.

Keep it up, Sonoma County!


One Brave Senator

Although many will recall his George McGovern’s 1972 loss to Richard Nixon and his subsequent leadership in getting us out of Vietnam, his truly lasting legacy will be his war on hunger and malnutrition.

In 1977, McGovern’s Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs published dietary goals for the United States. It marked the first time that a U.S. government document recommended reduced meat consumption. The meat industry forced the abolition of the committee, voted McGovern out of office, and warned bureaucrats never to challenge meat consumption again.

Now, after 35 years of studies linking meat consumption with elevated risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other killer diseases, the MyPlate icon, representing the USDA’s current dietary guidelines for Americans, recommends vegetables, fruits and grains, but never mentions meat and shunts dairy off to one side. It all started with one brave senator from South Dakota.

Santa Rosa

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