Posts Tagged ‘local politics’

Update on Baker’s Green Acres

Here is an update on the feral pig story from Michigan.   Mark Baker is running for sheriff in his county.  And he’s made a movie about it.  “Hogwash”  This is a bit of a commercial for the movie but I think it is important so here is the trailer/commercial.  I think I will buy a copy and have it shown at my local co-op.


Government Over-reach in Michigan

Baker’s Green Acres is under siege.   Because they are growing a heritage breed of pig.   You can read about this on their website or on another website that I have a few problems with but which does do a fairly fair job of telling the story.

“By any account, the state of Michigan has run rampant using their positions to abuse the people and swine of Michigan. For the past two years, a peaceful farmer, instead of producing food for his community, has spent countless hours in court, filing papers, working with his attorneys to keep his livelihood, and has gone to bed every night wondering what the state-paid pigs are going to do next. Baker and his family have been traumatized by the events and they have seen the consequences of such trauma.

The Baker family hopes that they can keep the pigs they want and that they never hear from the “feral” pigs again.

The only silver lining is that there is still the possibility of setting a desirable precedent. After 2 long years, countless threats, and harassment, Baker is finally scheduled to have his day in court. The trial is set for March 11-14, 2014. This trial is an opportunity for people to support a peaceful farmer from the intrusion of feral pigs who work for the DNR (Department of Natural Resources).”


SWAT Team Raids Sustainable Farm

This from the Blog “Hang the Bankers” dated 22 Dec 2013:

“At around seven thirty last Friday morning, inhabitants of The Garden of Eden, a small Intentional Community based on Sustainability, were awakened by a SWAT raid conducted by the City of Arlington for suspicion of being a full fledged marijuana growth and trafficking operation. Ultimately only a single arrest was made based on unrelated outstanding traffic violations, a handful of citations were given for city code violations, and zero drug related violations were found.”

Read the whole post and watch the video.   This is scary shit.  Sorry to be Debbie Downer during the holidays.

Merry Men

Just finished reading “Merry Men”  by Maine author Carolyn Chute.   She is definitely my new favorite populist novelist!!!!   What a great writer and a great mind.

The Author and Her Husband at Home.

The Author and Her Husband at Home.

I would like to share the dedication to the book and then urge all of you to go and read all 695 pages of this magnificent book about real life in rural Maine.

“Please let me honor here all the farmers who still work the land themselves, who are not agribusinessmen or agribusinesswomen, but farmers, who know family and community interdependence….America’s last vestiges of freedom.

And in honor to all those millions who were born to be farmers, as they have been for thousands of years, but because of modern, “education,” Big Business, and Mechanization they cannot be and will never know their true gift but are instead herded into welfare lines, prisons, or the slavery of Big Business…may they find it —the gift—in another life, another world.”

All of her novels are good but this one is an epic.   And it has a message.   Something that my creative writing teachers keep telling me you can’t/shouldn’t/mustn’t do.    This book cries Bullshit on that school of thinking,  Hurrah!!!!  Some of the world’s greatest literature has a message.    And certainly most folktales do.  The message of this  particular tale resonates with me now because I am in the midst of the new populist movement.   The one that says you have a right to feed yourself and your loved ones without getting permission from the government or any corporations.

Fight fascism.   Grow your own!!!!

At Union’s Applewood Farm, a lesson in listening

reposting from the Penobscot Bay Pilot:

Bill Packard
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I’ve got a friend and business associate named Joel whom many people would dismiss as just a simple farmer. I buy manure and hay from him for my business and we get eggs for the house. Joel and his wife, Sally, work hard on their farm, but they really enjoy what they do. It’s great to go there in the spring and watch the calves trot along behind their moms and see the other spring beginnings that happen on a farm.

There’s way more to Joel and Sally than many realize. They understand how local decisions can impact their lives and they speak out when they don’t agree. That’s pretty basic American stuff, but few people can say that they have done it. There is something about Joel and Sally that I find very interesting and also lost on a lot of people these days. They listen.

More and more as politics get heated and people get really involved, they forget to listen. I look at some folks and listen to them and realize that there is no sense getting into any kind of debate with them, because their mind is made up. Kind of like the saying: “Don’t try to confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up!” Joel and Sally aren’t like that. They listen. Now let me get one thing straight right here. I’m not saying they don’t have opinions or take a position. They certainly have strong views about things, but listening to others is very important to them to understand other positions and respecting those positions if they deserve it.

Joel tells a story about a woman who came by the farm questioning all they did. She wanted to know about the feed and conditions and how they dealt with the animals when it was time for slaughter and she thought she knew all the “right” ways to farm. After answering her questions and listening to her concerns, Joel shared reality with her. If she wanted to put pressure on his already marginal farming operation, which he and his wife did out of love for it, not monetary wealth, he would turn the valuable property into expensive house lots and he and his bride would move to a comfortable climate with the profits and this lady would win the battle over proper farming operations. The lady in question listened to what Joel said and became interested in buying some manure from this well-run farm for her gardens and when it all ended, both had learned something from the other.

This is what seems to be missing in many of today’s discussions. One side is talking but the other side is not listening. It’s fine to disagree. There is nothing wrong with that. Disagreeing while being disagreeable is a real problem and I think a lot of that comes from not listening. There are many people who will tell you that I’m opinionated and set in my ways, etc. Guilty as charged. The older I get, the more I realize that many things don’t change and it’s easy to predict the outcome in a lot of situations. But I do listen. I do want to hear the other side of the argument. I believe that I should take in all that’s said politely and may or may not share my point of view on the issue. If its politics, more and more I just let it go because so many people have become so closed minded about things that they just shut down and don’t want to listen. I think that’s sad and I think it’s sending the country in a direction that is not healthy.

Once you decide that your mind is made up, you close your mind to new ideas and opportunities. You put people into categories because of their past beliefs and decide whether you will agree or not, even before you hear what they have to say.

Things don’t work that way at Joel and Sally’s farm. If you go over there on Payson Road in Union to buy some eggs or beef or hay, or manure, open your mind and listen to the conversation. You could learn a lot. Or, if you prefer, just leave the money in the box at the bottom of the refriderator in the garage, take your eggs and leave. Better still if you have that kind of attitude, buy your eggs someplace else.


Bill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of  He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant. 

Happy Birthday Occupy!!!

Today all over the country people are celebrating the first Anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  A decentralized, joyous announcement that the Movement is not dead and hardly in disarray as the Yahoo Headline said this morning when I opened my email.  The Nation has a better article.  Read it here.

 Why was I up early this morning?  Because there was a counter demonstration organized by my friends Heidi and Read in the next town.  Yes, in sleepy little Freedom, Maine the Koch brother funded “Americans for Prosperity Tour” was rolling into town.  And we were there to meet it. Their deluxe bus arrived in front of the Dirigo Grange and the three people riding on it got out.  The local conservative activists met them and everyone stood around eating the complimentary breakfast.  It was a beautiful autumn day in Maine.

Then the Occupy folks started accumulating.  By the time the Grumpy Old Plutocrats (my new take on the GOP acronym) started their speechifying the Occupy counter-protest outnumbered them about two to one. 

The media showed up and interviewed everyone.   The “Prosperity” folks wandered over to chat with us.  We wandered over and spoke with them.   We talked among ourselves and caught up on what was going on in each other’s lives since the last picket line we’d stood on together.  I talked to Carol Weston, an old family friend, about our kids.

At one point a woman in our group looked at me and said, “You’re the Green Party!”  Well, I’m not quite the whole party but I guess I am one of the more public faces of the party in this area.  That, of course, unleashed the usual discussion about how the Green Party should just give up and join the Democrats.  Leading to my now well-worn rant about corporate parties and how can you stand there with a anti-corporate sign and still vote for someone who is essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex?

Cars went by, people waved and car horns honked.  All in all a festive occasion.  And very civilized as befits small town politics.


So here are a couple of pictures of invasive species. 

Oh, and my farm did not get hit by a frost last night so all in all I’m having a very good day!!!Bub-bye!  Empty bus leaving Freedom.  I know there’s a metaphor there somewhere.


Island Politics

We spent last weekend (our anniversary) on Monhegan Island.  A place my sweetheart had been many times and I (the Maine native) had never been.  It was beautiful and quiet and peaceful and isolated and all the other things that you think of when you picture a Maine island in the summer.  Oh, and over run by tourists like us, too, of course.  However, even there I could not get away from politics.   As the saying goes “All politics is local” and that is surely true on an island where the winter populations shrinks to about 50 souls.   There will be one student in the island school this year.

On the way out to the island on the Elizabeth Ann the captain, a very entertaining man, announced on the loudspeaker that he and his crew would answer any question we had, even if they needed to make up an answer, no topic was out-of-bounds, except politics.  He declared his boat a “politics free zone.”  I chuckled and watched the Atlantic Gannets dive-bombing the ocean in search of fish.

As we took our first stroll around the island after lunch we saw this sign posted, among all the other notices, on several bulletin boards:

Obviously the island was not a totally “politics free zone”, thank goodness.

Around the communal table the next morning the host of our Bed and Breakfast regaled us with tales of island politics.   Everything from the pressures of a dwindling winter population to the story of how the island came to the difficult decision to have sharp-shooters rid the island of the imported deer population.   The island had been a “research lab” for everything from the spread of Lyme Disease to the trapping of non-existent mice.  The problem is Norwegian Wharf Rats not mice.   Again and again it seems off-islanders have come to this small bump of land in the Atlantic with pre-conceived notions of what was wrong with the island and how best to cure it.   (Kind of like Washington deciding how best to help farmers through the current disastrous drought without consulting farmers.)

I was charmed by the islanders method of handling the “from aways” and their intrusions.  It seems that the usual attitude of the natives is to just sit back and let the know-it-alls bang their head against whatever particular wall they have chosen.  Only after they have exhausted themselves do the locals slide in and say “Well the reason your traps aren’t catching any mice is because the rats already ate ‘em all.”  Or something to that effect.

This is a perfect microcosm of the “just walk away” attitude that is becoming my new mantra.   The Zen approach of letting your opponents wear themselves out with futile activity while you go about your daily life.  Unruffled by their machinations.  But perhaps wryly amused at the faces they make as they strain to make their imposed solutions work.

So for a taste of island serenity, with a dash of politics as it should be, I recommend a night or two on Monhegan.   It will soothe your mind and refresh your point of view.