Rhapsodies and Rants: 11-30-2011

Birds and the Bees

Samantha Larson’s article (“Bluebird Song,” Nov. 23) about encouraging our native Western bluebirds to help combat insect pests was quite interesting. It is nice to see viticulturalists and academics working together to explore natural solutions to pest control, such as putting up bluebird nesting boxes to encourage resident bug-catchers. However, I’d like to point out that while Western bluebirds are primarily insectivorous, they are not exclusively insect eaters, especially during the winter months when few insects can be found. They greatly enjoy berries of many plants, especially natives such as Berberis nevinii, “Nevin Barberry,” said to be a particular favorite, and elderberry, juniper, toyon, lemonade berry, coffeeberry, Ribes “wild currant,” to name only a few. Not only do these plants provide food for native birds and mammals, their blossoms attract helpful insects such as honey bees, native bees and beneficial wasps and flower flies. Vineyard managers, farmers and homeowners can encourage the symbiotic relationship of insects, birds and plants by growing and protecting native plants.

Vice President, Partners for Sustainable Pollination

Code of Silence

The recent incidents of police brutality against peaceful protesters highlight a number of things:

Our government’s enthusiasm for protests elsewhere does not extend to our own citizens, no matter how justified the cause.

The police use overwhelming force to intimidate peaceful protesters.

When police are abusive, other officers do not intervene, becoming, in effect, accessories and accomplices.

Police are not held accountable for criminal actions because they are in uniform.

When police are caught on camera, as they are so often now, they receive mild reprimands rather than the consequences that would apply to anyone else. This must be one reason they continue to abuse people.

Although part of the 99% who are being used by those in power, the police are captured by their role and the code of silence that applies in police departments around the country.

This situation is dangerous to any country that calls itself free. A badge and uniform do not give license to commit crimes with impunity. We need civilian oversight of police activities and consequences commensurate with the crimes committed.

Santa Rosa

Word Up!

Thank you so much for supporting Literacyworks’ first annual Word Up! Fair. We had an amazing day at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds. Over 1,500 people attended, and all learned something from how to live a healthier lifestyle to changing a tire to using social media. Our community-learning fair was a resounding success.

With your help, Literacyworks was able to bring over 30 community organizations together for a free, daylong festival. This unprecedented coming together of learning resources gave participants of all ages, income levels and backgrounds a chance to learn something new—and pursue it for a lifetime. By increasing these opportunities our community will gain new skills and improve self-advocacy, increasing the health and prosperity of the North Bay.

Executive Director, Literacyworks

Dept. of Bedford Falls

In our Nov. 16 Holiday Arts guide, we erroneously printed that the Pegasus Theatre Co. was performing It’s a Wonderful Life. Though we are huge fans of the movie (there’s a giant poster of the Bailey family on our office walls right now, no joke), this info, from last year, is incorrect. Pegasus is in fact performing their radio version of Miracle on 34th Street, a fine story in its own right, running Dec. 15-18. Expect live sound effects, piano by Gordon Stubbe and bright tunes from the ’30s and ’40s. Staged at the old Rio Nido Inn, it’s a perfect way to kick off the season (much better than midnight openings and big-box rioting, to be sure).

Loving This Drafty Old House

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