Your Week in Ocean: Heroes of the Coast – Be One!

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, Oct. 8 @ 4:14 p.m. / Ocean

Please enjoy the above nudibranch photos courtesy of local Twitter marine photog extraordinaire @MSidKelly.

Enjoy more ocean beauty, North Coast and otherwise, by celebrating the success of Coastal Cleanup Day at a special Friday night Ocean Night featuring Heroes of the Coast, which tells the story of the Californians who invested their time, money and – in some cases – their careers in supporting the passage of Proposition 20, The California Coastal Protection Act.

Ocean Night happens each month at the Arcata Theatre Lounge. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., films start at 7 p.m. All-ages! October’s raffle includes the usual swag, plus Holly Yashi earrings and a Shawn Griggs “Surfing Buddha” T-shirt among other awesome stuff. (Ocean Night is sponsored by the Northcoast Environmental Center, Humboldt Surfrider and Humboldt Baykeeper.) We’ll also have Trouble in Paradise by visiting traveler Matt Hannon. Check out his blog to get a sense of the very cool vibe. 

Coastal Cleanup Day sponsors, site captains and volunteers are invited to attend free and bask in admiration!

The only excuse for not being at Ocean Night is because you’re attending Salmon is Everything, which also takes place on Friday, which is also Arts!Arcata. The theatrical reading happens at Northtown Books, 7 to 10 p.m.

Here’s something else cool: If you happen to be filing a late extension on your state taxes, and you care about pollution prevention, K-12 marine education, native habitats, and coastal access for all Californians, please contribute $1 or more to the Protect Our Coasts & Oceans fund. It is easy. Look for the “Voluntary Contributions” section on your extension form.

Want to get dirty? (Yes.) Volunteers are needed to help Friends of the Dunes and Arcata Sunrise Rotary clean up trash along Highway 255 in Manila on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Meet at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, 220 Stamps Lane in Manila, for a brief safety talk before heading out to pick up trash. Gloves, trash bags and morning snacks will be provided.

Alternatively, help out the PacOut Green Team with Fernbridge cleanup round #3, Saturday, 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Have a child? Or able to borrow one? Join an experienced naturalist for Nature Story Time at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, also on Saturday from 2 to 3 p.m. Geared for ages 3 to 6, story time will focus on local wildlife and will be followed by a simple craft project. For more information or to reserve a space, call (707) 444-1397.

Jennifer Savage is the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Coastal Programs Director and chairs the Humboldt chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.


Your Week in Ocean: Drought Workshop, Kayaking Nightmare, Marine Protected Areas Confab

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, Oct. 1 @ 10:53 a.m. / Activism , Coastal Currents , Ocean

Happy Sharktober! Here is a gratuitous shark vs shark video for your viewing pleasure:

Less Trash!

While sharks may still be a natural threat to other sea life, one particular unnatural ocean inhabitant won’t be – at least not as much, not off the California coast.

As you may have heard, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 270, effectively shifting Californians away from using single-use plastic bags and toward more sustainable options. The switch isn’t immediate: large stores have until July, 2015 and small business have until July, 2016. Further, produce bags, restaurant to-go bags and bags to protect newspapers from rain will all still remain available. If your local liquor store requires you to bag your booze, and you don’t have your own, you might have to pay 10 cents for a paper or reusable bag, which is the same rule you’ll eventually find at groceries stores. 

Of course, many Humboldt grocers opted out of plastic bags years ago, some offering boxes as an alternative. Regular patrons of those stores seem to be doing just fine transporting their groceries, but for those of you concerned about the change, here’s some tips:

Chico (and similar) bags are helpful for those who tend to forget to bring reusables because they fold right up and are easy to clip onto a purse or backpack. 

If you forget your bag and don’t want to pay the 10 cents per paper, just chuck everything back in the car, toss it the trunk of your car, then grab your bags or boxes to unload efficiently at home.

Wondering how you’ll line your trash cans or clean up your dog poop now? You’ll still have all the aforementioned types of bags, plus bread bags, tortilla bags, etc. – banning the standard plastic grocery bags is one effort towards reducing waste and litter, but hardly a comprehensive elimination.

Like many other policy changes, SB 270 seeks to solve what’s been a growing environmental and economic problem. Californians (and all humans) have a right to clean beaches, a healthy ocean and directing our tax dollars toward issues other than cleaning up other people’s trash. The plastic bag industry is not entitled to continue imperiling those rights. This change puts citizens first. 

Over 100 cities, counties and districts in California had already banned bags. Many other cities in the U.S. have as well. So have other countries. It’s been working out just fine. If you have a specific question not addressed here, please send me an email at

Coastal Currents: Drought Workshop, Kayak Smash Disaster

A free “DIY Drought Solutions” workshop takes place this Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Arcata Community Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsored by Coastal Ecosystems Institute of Northern California, Humboldt County RCD, City of Trinidad, City of Arcata and more, the event will address low water-use and native plants, permaculture, greywater, rainwater collection and storage, LID techniques, plus feature youth activities and general water conservation information.

Tune into Coastal Currents today at noon (KHUM 104.7 FM, for an interview with DIY Drought Solutions organizer Jill Demers, Project Manager and Humboldt Bay Initiative Coordinator, Coastal Ecosystems Institute of Northern California. Additionally, Coastal Currents will feature Daniel Fox, founder of the Wild Image Project, who is still doing a fundraiser for underprivileged kids to get outdoor education at NOLS Alaska despite his paddle to San Francisco coming to a near-disastrous sudden end

…at the last minute, just before reaching the point of no return, three massive waves appeared, breaking just 10 feet ahead of me. I looked at the clouds of white seawater rising up into the sky, the roaring of the waves crashing and suddenly it became clear to me that there was no way my feet would be touching sand this evening…

Marine Protected Areas Bring Money, Collaboration to County

The success of the 2010 unified proposal for the North Coast Marine Protected Area was proven when it was officially adopted by the California Fish & Game Commission in 2012, but that was not the end of MPA-based team efforts. The MPA Collaborative Implementation Project hosts a stakeholder meeting today at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center from 3 to 5 p.m. to review Humboldt County’s MPA resources and activities surrounding enforcement, outreach and monitoring. Ultimately the group will receive $10,000 toward initial collaborative implementation projects. 

And more…

Governor Brown also signed into law a bill – sponsored by our own Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro – banning genetically modified salmon (aka “Frankenfish”) in California waters. KMUD news has the scoop. The PacOut Green Team cleaned up around Fernbridge, finding “multiple dump sites around the parking lot, lots of trash in general; computers, clothing, grow trimmings, Styrofoam, tires, and carcasses. That’s right, carcasses. We found three deer dump sites. Pictures too graphic to share.” Full story here.

On that note, you can join them this Saturday, Oct. 4 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Just do it.

Photo courtesy PacOut Green Team

Bye, Bye, Bags

Jennifer Savage / Tuesday, Sept. 30 @ 2:08 p.m. / Nature , Ocean

Today in plastic bags #1

Finally, at long last, after years of advocacy, decades of data and a half-century of existence, single-use plastic bags are no longer welcome in California. Governor Jerry Brown made it official today.

From the Gov’s newsroom:

“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” said Governor Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.” Read the whole thing here,

North Coast environmental advocates celebrated. Zero Waste Humboldt President Maggie Gainer said, “In Zero Waste Humboldt’s never-ending mission to end the environmental and economic damage done by single use products and packaging, it’s nice to take a moment to celebrate.” Gainer pointed out that Arcata is among the 127 California cities and counties that had already adopted a single use plastic bag ordinance. She ended her statement with a quote by Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste (and HSU alum). “Forty years ago there were no plastic grocery bags,” Murray said. “Four years from now, we’ll forget there ever were.”

Today in plastic bags #2

The ban comes on the heels of Coastal Cleanup Day, coordinated locally by the Northcoast Environmental Center. Plastic bags are always in the “Top 10” most common types of litter collected

Representatives from Humboldt Surfrider and Humboldt Baykeeper, longtime advocates of the ban, cheered the Governor’s signing as well. Former Humboldt Surfrider Volunteer Coordinator MJ Mazurek, who worked for years to persuade people to switch to reusable bags and has since left the North Coast for the North Shore, posted on Facebook, “Way to go Jerry!!! Thanks to the thousands of people that helped make this happen – now let’s do the same on Oahu!”

California is the first state in the nation to outlaw single-use plastic bags.

More coverage in the L.A. Times and Sac Bee.

Finally, all that work paid off! The Bag Monster, Arcata Plaza, April, 2012


‘A Neofeminist Deconstruction of Female Identity in the Weed Industry as Expressed in an ‘Underground’ Hip-Hop Video,’ or, ‘Bitches Be Crazy’

Jennifer Savage / Monday, Sept. 29 @ 11:24 a.m. / Culture , Humboldt , Humor

Ryan Burns sent me a link to an animated music video (above) in which the narrator talks smack about “Nor Cal Gold Diggas.” He wanted my take on it, I assume, as A Woman Passionate About Gender Equity and Misguided Cultural Norms. So I watched it. If the video was satire, the poor animation and great-awful lines – “I’m gonna stick’er with my Fiskars” – would be brilliant. But “Hella Richtor” seems to be serious. I found myself mildly amused at the video’s existence, then remembered that I am a humorless feminist, so I decided to treat the leitmotifs more seriously, asking myself, as always, Should I be offended?

First, let’s look at the overarching storyline, in which a woman comes to town and uses her sexual wiles to seduce a sought-after rich man (in this case, a grower, natch) and incurring the wrath of the women who were there before her. This is not a new tale but one of several relationship scenarios that has been examined in art through the ages. Does it reinforce the stereotype of women as more willing to tear each other down than embrace one another as sisters? Sure. But in this context, we have the creative, artistic expression of a specific cultural experience and can examine it as such. 

What about the name-calling? “Gold digga” and “grow ho” are both used to label the miniskirted, fish-netted antagonist. Is this an example of slut-shaming? If you embrace and endorse the mentality of Hella Richtor’s narrator, then maybe yes, you are being judgmental about women who attach themselves for materialistic reasons to guys who grow pot. We can agree that it’s wrong to be judgmental – but from books and movies to reality TV shows and pop culture blogs, we’re entertained by assessing the behavior of others. 

Additionally, Hella Richtor’s throwing down of the gauntlet – “Go back to the Valley” – is an expression of the passionate outsider vs. insider mentality that exists in Humboldt County in general and this particular subculture specifically. (Ultimately we’re reminded “it’s a blessing” to be here.)

Finally, the violence. Few things upset me as much as the culture of violence that exists toward women, most of which is sexualized and all of which results in injury and death for thousands of individuals across the globe at a rate of which is unfathomable -– for every minute it takes me to write this, approximately 20 people are victimized by domestic violence, most of whom are women being hurt by men.

So how does that relate to the punching, shooting and the aforementioned threat of Fiskar-sticking by the homegrown cartoon characters against the “Nor Cal Gold Digga Cherry Picker”? I don’t think it does. This is clearly make-believe. There’s not even any cartoon blood. Are abuse and murder problems in the hills? Sure. (I say that based on news reports and word on the street – I have no immediate, personal connection to say anything definitively.) Is that fact connected to this video in any but the most spurious way? I just can’t take it any more literally than I would actions in South Park. To give the video more credit than due, we can compare it to the old-timey murder ballads, the appreciation of which does not equal endorsement for the behavior described within.

Sanctuary Sunday, Hikshari’ Happiness, Eureka Excellence!

Jennifer Savage / Sunday, Sept. 28 @ 6:46 p.m. / Celebration , Community , Eureka Rising , Event , Feel Good , Good News , Local Happenings , Nature , Trails

Your Redwood Community Action Agency emphasized both “Community” and “Action” with the first “Explore the Coast: Sundays in the Sanctuary” event. Centered at the foot of Hilfiker lane, the mini-fest offered free kayaking, rollerskating, plein air painting and drawing, mud digs, birdwatching and other interpretive activities. 

The sunny day and opportunity to learn more about the coast brought an enthusiastically participating crowd. If you missed it, or if you were there and are looking forward to the next one, it’s only a few weeks away on Sunday, Oct. 19.

RCAA Active Living Program Manager Emily Sinkhorn

What makes exploring even more fun? Roller skates!

Free fun via kayaks and canoes.

Artist Gary Bloomfield assisted with birdwatching and artmaking.

Eureka, where the artists are.

Searching for critters.

A gift from the mud makes for a quick biology lesson.