Editor's note: This is one in a series of opinion pieces solicited by the Journal. In the immediate aftermath of Nov. 8, it became very clear that people need safe spaces to discuss their ideas and feelings, and generally process what was the ugliest and most vitriolic presidential contest in generations. To that end, we reached out to a variety of community stakeholders, people who we felt could help starts this community dialogue. The response was overwhelming, and a full list of submissions complete with links can be found at the bottom of this post. We hope you'll also join the conversation by commenting online, writing letters to the editor and talking to each other.
How to respond to the November election results? It's an overwhelming task. There is so much involved and so much being revealed. This may the most enlightening election in our country's history, one that offers immense opportunity for growth as we wake up to the true meaning of democracy, its promising strengths and its cultural pitfalls.
We pride ourselves here in Humboldt as a progressive culture, centered primarily in Arcata's nuclear free zone, the home of the first Green majority on a city council. But all is not so well as we may have come to believe. Humboldt County has a long and deeply painful history: the Indian massacres, the Chinese expulsion, police killings of the indigent and mentally ill, the raids and deportation of undocumented immigrants, the banning of Native American Studies professor Jacquelyn Bolman from the California State University system for criticizing administrative policy, the recent racism unleashed on black students new to the HSU and, just a few days ago, the arrest of two Fortuna High School students just hours before they were about to cause a "mass casualty event" in their school. In spite of our dark history, past and present, there is a light in Humboldt County that sets the hills aglow and brings out the very best in humanity. It is the coming together of the many who care, who seek peaceful and just solutions, who have the courage to hold the line, and to demand more. It is the return of Indian Island to the Wiyot Tribe and the Honor Tax, initiated by Seventh Generation Fund, Democracy Unlimited, and the Humboldt Greens. It is the universal support in our community for Standing Rock and the convergence of HSU students with 150 Arcata High students who walked out of class to join in peaceful protest of the worst president-elect in modern American history.
There is an awakening afoot in Humboldt County, and we need to grab hold of it, to take back the power that complacency and fear have compromised and forge it into a new and lasting revolutionary movement of like-minded people working together in coalition. We need to assert our sovereignty over corporations that would sue us for denying them their "right" to pillage and pollute our earth. We need to transform Proposition 59 into an amendment to the Constitution defining "persons" as human beings, sovereign over corporations and government (https://movetoamend.org/). We need to disband the Electoral College and make our government representative, not only of the majority, but of minority voices as well. We need public campaign financing and we need a voting system that allows us to vote our conscience rather than our fear (http://www.fairvote.org/).
Most urgently, we need to confront climate change with honesty and action. There are solutions. We just need to implement them. Thanks to George Wheeler's vision and resolve, McKinleyville Community Services District is looking at putting purchase of a new truck aside in order to install solar panels that will save the district million of dollars and eventually pay for that truck. We need solar panels on the rooftops of our homes. Solar panels pay for themselves in 10 to 12 years, and the loan can be attached to the mortgage that goes with the house. Climate change is the most challenging issue we face, a crisis that cannot be ignored or postponed. There will be, and are, times when we will have to take direct action, no matter who is president. The people of Oregon, like the Standing Rock Water Protectors, are fighting to stop the fracked LNG pipeline slated to go under the Klamath River (https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthOrganizing/). EPIC, our local powerhouse forest and watershed protector, has been steadfast in defense of our regional wildlands.
Proposition 64, a heavy hitter in this election, is about to unleash a plethora of consequences unintended by voters. We need to keep a close eye on our agricultural land and protect our local medicinal marijuana industry. Pfizer already attempted to buy a large parcel of rich bottom land in Ferndale with the intention of cornering the medicinal market. Land prices have begun spiking in anticipation of Proposition 64's passing. Personally, my concern is that Humboldt County will go the way of Sonoma, where once rolling hills of pasture, chicken farms, and orchards, open land are now covered with fenced vineyards, and organic farms are few and far between. Our General Plan is a critical protector, or it may be a give-away when the restrictions on canopy size are lifted in 2023.
The bottom line is we need to come together. We need to pay attention and be proactive. We need to elect people to local office, people that truly and honestly represent us. And long-term, we need to build a movement, a nonviolent political revolution.
Dana Silvernale is chair of the Humboldt County Green Party.
Submissions from NAACP of Eureka First Vice President Liz Smith, local attorney and U.S. Army reservist Allan Dollison, North Coast People's Alliance Steering Committee Member Tamara McFarland, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills, Humboldt County Central Democratic Committee Chair Bob Service, local programmer and freelance writer Mitch Trachtenberg, Humboldt County Green Party Chair Dana Silvernale, Rabbi Naomi Steinberg, Humboldt State University assistant professor of history Leena Dallesheh, Friends of the Eel River Executive Director Scott Greacen and League of Women Voters Humboldt County President Rollin Richmond can be found by clicking their names.