This week’s cover article “Calling for a Shutdown” is must reading. I appreciate the divergent perspectives of the Willits residents on this matter, but there is a much bigger picture here.
I was drawn into the article because of the evocation of the feds’ shutdown. But the article is about the Willits Bypass tree-sitting by reporter Will Parish and others in Mendocino County. We North Bay readers in Sonoma County, where I live, Marin, where I teach, and Napa, would be wise to read this article. It helps us understand why we are likely to see more such “direct action” here as conditions in the U.S. worsen.
Some “background,” as they say in journalism. Parrish writes for the Anderson Valley Advocate (AVA). He has done some of the best research and writing about the bloated Sonoma County wine industry and how it rules our county.
Rachel Dovey’s article appropriately compares Parrish to 350.org’s Bill McKibben and the “Guardian’s” Glenn Greenwald reporting on whistle-blower Edward Snowden exposing the National Security Administration (NSA). Let's also not forget that another journalist, Tom Paine, was key in starting the American Revolution with his pamphleteering. There is a long history of advocacy journalism and direct action by courageous writers.
Why might one risk eight-years-in-jail, as Parrish has? Because “the Willits Bypass destroys wetlands, kills coho salmon and forever changes a valley,” the cover reads.
As an activist in the Sebastopol Grange, I appreciate Dovey mentioning the “thriving Grange” in Willits. Last year’s 140th Annual California State Grange Conference happened in Willits, and this year’s happens in Sebastopol, Oct. 9-13. Please join us Oct. 9, Wed., 7 p.m. for a free screening of “Symphony of the Soil,” an incredibly beautiful musical documentary about the ground that holds us up.
Parrish has laid his life on the line, high up in those trees, and now faces a sentence of up to eight years in jail. He has been charged with 16 misdemeanors. This is the non-violent way that Gandhi, King, and others have pursued. This young man deserves our support for his courageous direct action and in his trial, scheduled to begin in November.
Shepherd Bliss, Sebastopol
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