humboldt

Bigfoot, Bullets and Bud: My Insane Humboldt County Weed Harvest

“All aboard,” Brady snickered, as he opened the rear door of a horse trailer hitched to a narcoleptic mid-‘90s Suzuki Samurai. The trailer’s windows were boarded over with stained scraps of plywood. I climbed right in, along with 16 others who had trekked to this remote mountain farm in Humboldt County, California, to trim marijuana. Brady slammed the door shut and padlocked it from the outside. Inside was pitch black and filthy. I fell on my ass when we started winding down the road. The trailer creaked and swayed with every bend, threatening to come loose and tumble off the mountainside. It was my first day of work.

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The New Reefer Madness: Drug War Crusaders Blame Pot Growers for Dead Animals -- But the Drug War's to Blame

The photo looks like something out of a horror film. A long, thin animal lays dissected on a white table. Metal tools pull the animal's skin back to reveal its jellied, maroon-colored insides — all soupy, slick, and lumpy. It's the remains of a Pacific Fisher, an eight-pound member of the weasel family that's now hovering near extinction, thanks in part to illegal pot farming in the vast forests of California.

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Will Legalizing Pot Destroy Humboldt Or Transform It into the Napa Valley of Weed?

Excerpted from the book HUMBOLDT: Life on America’s Marijuana Frontier by Emily Brady.  Copyright © 2013 by Emily Brady.  Reprinted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.  All rights reserved.

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Challenging Corporate Power: California Community Says Companies Are Not People; Bans Campaign Donations

In 2006, Humboldt County, California, became the latest, and largest, jurisdiction to abolish the legal doctrine known as "corporate personhood."

Measure T was successful because our all-volunteer campaign came together to pass a law that bans non-local corporations from participating in Humboldt elections. The referendum, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, also asserts that corporations cannot claim the First Amendment right to free speech.

By enacting Measure T, Humboldt County has committed an act of "municipal civil disobedience," intentionally challenging "settled law." But voters also recognize that Measure T is an act of common sense. We polled our community and found that 78 percent believe corruption is more likely if corporations participate in politics.

The Measure T campaign was led by women and young people, with critical support from elders and feminist men. This diverse leadership created a culture of cooperation and collaboration that permeated the campaign, and made it as much about community as about a win on election day. For example, the law itself was written using a consensus process, the advice of volunteers was valued just as highly as input from experts and consultants, and we organized numerous parties and social events to help spread the word.

The local Democratic and Green Parties formally endorsed the effort, and leaders of both worked arm-in-arm during the campaign. They were joined by organized labor and every peace, justice, and environmental protection group in the community. Humboldt County modeled a campaign carried out with respectful unity.

This effort did not spring up out of thin air. It was the result of years of old-fashioned community organizing by Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County that included workshops and educational programs explaining how corporations have acquired more rights under the law than people have.

We designed the campaign with "big picture" goals in mind from the beginning. We knew we wanted to claim for our campaign the best and most noble ideals of American history--especially self-governance and protecting people's rights against abusive power. We realize that the founding of this country is deeply flawed, but we used the national creation story to put Measure T on the side of truth and justice.

To that end, our PAC was named the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights, and our website was VoteLocalControl.org. Our primary outreach tool was a tea bag that reminded voters of the proud history of the Boston Tea Party as an act of rebellion against the most powerful corporation of the day, and called for a modern-day T(ea) Party of our own.

Like the populists of the 19th-century agrarian movement, we believe that genuine change cannot be imposed from the top down. It must proceed from the ground up, and the battles must be waged in local communities.

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