Friday, April 13, 2018

Taking on the Angry Vegans

Taking on the Angry Vegans

                There are three ways the American people are polarized:  The first is in regard to the Word.  (Some believe, some do not.)  The second is in regard to spirituality.  (Some are, some are not.)  The third is in regard to being vegan.  (the Vegans are angry at all of us) 

                The first polarity is ridiculous.  The second is necessary.  The third is tiresome.

                Just as we exist to bridge the gap-between the non-believers and the believers, just as we exist to bring peace between those two groups, we also exist to bridge the gap between spiritual people and the non-believers, and to broker peace between vegans and the carnivores.   These are all highly polarized groups. 

            Followers of the Word

                There are those who believe the Word and those who don’t.

                Oh, did you think I was talking about God?  Don’t be ridiculous. 

                I am talking about the Word of the cannabis plant.  I’m talking about the knowledge that the cannabis plant is the secret to salvation. Salvation of the people, and salvation of the planet.  The medicinal compounds hold the secret to healing the people, and the industrial hemp holds the secret to replacing plastics and getting on with healing the planet.  It’s THAT word.  The Word that can end the hurtling journey toward extinction.  That Word. 

                If you still want to talk about the Word of God, you have to realize that we see you as if you are standing on the railroad tracks, reading your Bible, while a high-speed train is bearing down on you.  We aren’t going to have that discussion with you, not now, not while the children of the planet are in great jeopardy, probably – not ever.  Not while sixty species go extinct per day.  Not while McDonalds and Taco Bell are still paying thousands of people to figure out new ways for you to eat meat. 

               “It’s not enough” demands Ronald McDonald, pounding the table, “It’s not enough!  The buns must become meat!  The aprons must be made of meat!  The very plates we serve the meat on, must be made of meat!”  He is a truly diabolical task master.

                If you want to talk about your relationship with Creator Goddess, then let’s start by talking about the one and only truly great gift she gave us, Planet Earth, and why we are trashing that gift.  Let’s talk about why we made it cultural (and we’re exporting that culture around the world, rapidly) to have extinction on our plate for every meal and every snack???

                If I spend all the money in the world building my children the greatest, coolest, more exotic and exciting place to live and they spent all their time killing the plants to feed the pets to kill the pets to eat them, I  wouldn’t be happy.  Yet, this is what we are doing with the planet given us as a gift from our Creator.

                The other day, as I was coming home from the gym, I had a Christian talk show on the radio and the minister was so compelling, that I was still sitting in the driveway listening to him, a full twenty minutes after pulling in.  He was systematically laying out the extinction of Christianity and how it came to be.  And everything he said was truth.  Until the end.  I thought the punch line should be, ‘So now, with Christianity on the brink of extinction, we have, the Weed Nuns!’  Wouldn’t that be remarkable.     No, his speech ended with the conclusion that Christianity is going extinct because we are at the eve of the rapture.  Click.  I turned it off and carried on with my day.

                The one sentence the Baptist preacher said that stuck with me was this one: 

                “We (the Christians) are sitting making daisy chains in the dark night of the globe, while the great masses of people are finding ways to cope without us.”  Hence, the sprouting of weed-nuns?
People have traded up arguing about invisible gods and invisible fetuses for real talk about highly visible and effective plant-medicine.  That’s an upgrade in the planet’s conversational IQ.

                Spiritual vs. Non-Spiritual

                In re-cap, the first bi-polar group is those who believe in Cannabis’ medical powers and those who have never tried it (the dis-believers). 

                The second group is those who are spiritual and those who are not.  I let them be.  I think the planet needs our cynics and disbelievers when it comes to religion.  They are quite beautiful and quite necessary.  They are here to make sure no one drinks the cool-aid and every religion should welcome the non-believers as witnesses to the religion’s ‘do-no-harm’ ethics.  (They all have that ethos, few follow it.)

                We only honor the disbelievers of spiritual and unseen things.  (Bill Maher disbelieves all spirituality and we love him.  That is his job.)  On the other hand, we do not honor people who disbelieve science, facts, and physical things happening right here, before our eyes, on the physical plane.  Climate change deniers, be gone from us.  Libertarians, be gone too.  We follow best example.  We want our children to have the same quality of life they would have if they were Dutch, German or Canadian.  We don’t want them to continue this system of being second-class-citizens of the developed nations. 

                Vegans versus Not-Vegan-Enough

                There’s no other way to address this issue but to say plainly that Angry Vegans are not helping the plant-based diet cause.  We know you are angry!  We get it!  Someone though it better to raise livestock for slaughter over something less slaughter-ish, like, say, eating beans.  We agree.  It was stupid.  It is stupid. And one day, we promise you that the Sisters here in Merced will get drunk enough to break into Foster Farms and free the chickens.  We will do that.  We’ve heard real nuns do shit like that and we want to emulate them.  It’s on our bucket list.  Promise.

                After three years of failing at veganism, this past January, as new years’ resolutions swirled around us, we decided to take a much more practical approach to our dietary restrictions.  And a religious approach.  ‘Religious’ means ‘have fun with it for no apparent planetary reason, just imaginary reasons’. 

1.       New Moon to Full Moon – Strictly No Meat, with exceptions:  see #3, #4, #5, #6

2.       Full Moon to New Moon – Meat Is Permitted Daily, once per day only and not to be mixed with cheese, eggs or other animal by-product foods

3.       Holy Sacred Meat is Bacon*** is an exception to all rules, but in moderation / as a seasoning / never more than 2 slices of bacon in a 24-hour period

4.       All food rules are waived if you are sick or pregnant

5.       We are Activists and in Service Daily to the People, we cannot afford to go to bed hungry.  If your stomach is growling at bed-time, you are allowed to eat meat.

6.       You are allowed to eat meat that was prepared prior to the new moon and would be thrown away if not eaten (make no waste of sacrificial meat)

7.       Never mix meat with the milk or dairy or by-products from the same animal

8.       Meat is allowed at restaurants when traveling, but only once per trip (if in moon cycle)

                Why is bacon the sacred exception?  Because Sister Kate’s Chinese astrology sign is the Pig.  This is just as reasonable as saying twenty million Catholics will eat meat on Friday.  Their reason was because the Catholic church invested in fisheries.  At least my reason has no economic motive.  

                We are Beguine revivalists.  Our ancient mothers had to have eight children to see two of them turn eighteen years old.  That means they buried three of four children they gave birth do.  We think that had a lot to do with diet.  We don’t think ‘no meat’ is the way.  We certainly think WAY LESS MEAT is the way.  And we think every family and tribe should find its own path to a plant-based diet.  We think the more creative that path, the better.  Here’s the thing, though.  You can’t hate on people for not being vegan purists.  If you do, you lose the battle of moving more plant-based.

                 What happens when you go two full weeks without meat?  You can’t go back to eating meat once a day, you’ll get sick.  WE learned.  So even though it is allowed, most of us stay plant-based most of the time.      But if someone gets angry and ragey, we tell them to go eat meat.  It means, go satisfy your animal spirit needs in some other way.

                We are angry activists, because happy activists are shitty activists.  There is a place for anger and for ferocious animal energies.  We think we need our meat.  We think the animal energy helps us be the ferocious women we need to be now, in this dark night of the globe.  But we recognize that meat-eating is ruining this planet and the trends have to go the other way.  We believe our way is a helping hand in sending the trend in a new direction.  We don’t mind that the vegans are angry with us.  They too, have their place and anyway, without angry vegans, we would have way fewer recipes.

                Corn and grain, meat and milk, on the table before us.
                Hands and hearts come together to nourish and restore us.
                Bless our food and bless our folk and keep us in your grace,
                Ensure this sacred walk we take respects this sacred place.

                                (women) In Goddess we trust.
                                (men) In Goddess we trust.

Friday, June 23, 2017

How to Join the Sisterhood

Ever since the Aubrey Plaza video came out, we have been deluged with requests to join our Sisterhood. These requests are coming in from both women and men, many of whom are offering help in establishing a chapter, an order, whatever the Beguine equivalent word is, in their ‘neck of the woods’.   We tirelessly work to answer each and every one of them, but because of the Aubrey video (I wonder if she calls it ‘the weed nuns video’?), we are now officially backed up and it may take us weeks to catch up.

 Step 1:  Go to bottom of this page to sign up for our Newsletter
Step 2:  Get Active in Local Cannabis Law Reform Movements
Step 3:  Post Photos and Progress on Social Media (facebooktwitterInstagram)
Step 4:  Be patient.  We are working on it.

Normally, when favorable press comes out on us, we see a bump in sales.  This time, we saw a huge spike in the number of requests to join us.

It makes us all very happy to see people across the planet identifying with us and connecting with the message.  I almost wrote ‘our message’, but I stopped and corrected it because I have said from the beginning, that all what we do is not original.  It’s not new.  It may seem that way, but Beguine revivalism is happening in many places on planet earth right now, in many forms.  And with or without knowledge of the Beguines, women and men are walking the walk everywhere, and those people with a devotion to healing, have just been waiting for the Sisters of the Valley to come along, to unite us all. 

We are connecting the women and men that can be a force to be reckoned with – we are connecting a thousand points of light in a thousand places in a thousand lands . . . it feels wonderful.  It gives us hope for humanity, the people, the planet.  It gives us renewed belief that maybe we can turn the corner and start living a more charming and gracious interaction with our all-nurturing, all forgiving, all providing Mother Earth.

We don’t believe in suffering as a path to spirituality, as many other religions do.  We don’t believe that suffering necessarily brings you any closer to God.  We don’t believe that healing should necessarily hurt.  But there is one place we suffer – and that is in our activism.  Being an activist is like being in the army, or being a parent to a newborn.  Your personal comforts are set aside, while you are subjected to servitude.  In our case, the suffering comes from listening to city council(s) and police chiefs and even citizens spew lies about the cannabis plant (either out of ignorance or some other agenda that trivializes people’s pain). 

For these highly spiritual women, highly intuitive women, it is difficult to be in a room with liars.  It is a tear in our golden web when we have to sit in a room and listen to lies come through a microphone.  It hurts our feet when we protest.  We sometimes don’t get to eat, and our stomachs are often growling and we can’t find a place to even get a drink of water. 

Even though we are not proponents of pain, nor are we interested in poverty vows, we also know that all things worth having, are worth making some sacrifices for.  We sacrifice our time, we sacrifice our feet and our comforts all in the name of activism -- to change the minds and hearts of a very uncompassionate governing body.

Many ex-Catholic nuns and a few current Catholic nuns reached out to me to talk with me.  I always ask them the same thing, I ask them for advice on growing my order.  The common answer is:  “Many are called, few are chosen.”  I take that as a reminder that this is my order, I gave birth to it, and I can’t let any one person pollute it or harm it.

I know what we are not going to do.  We are not going to sell admittance to our order.  We are not going to be like the internet minister certification companies.  We aren’t going to sell outfits or commercialize the spiritual side of things. 

More and more, Christianity is getting on my nerves.  They are holding up a patriarchy that needs to collapse, and they are leading the attack against the cannabis plant.  At the city council meeting in Fresno yesterday, four Christian ministers/pastors and one Chaplain from the police force (?) spoke.  All of them were men, and all of them spoke out against the intelligent plant.  Against mother earth, and her people.  I was the only woman representing a ministry (of sorts) and I spoke for the plant.  Do you see what I see?   Do you see a connection between Christianity suppressing women, suppression of the feminine healing cannabis plant, and trashing of Mother Earth?    

The planet is crying out for a new age order of Sisters (and Brothers) to grow and provide some leadership and direction.  Seriously.  We need to grow big enough that we become a political force of our own.  It is the only way we will gain justice for the people of the plant – and the planet.

The media has perpetuated the lie that the cannabis plant is our own ‘holy trinity’.  That’s ridiculous.  We work with all kinds of plant-based medicine, and even though we are lousy vegans, we try.  We are always trying to be more plant-based in our diets.  More raw foods.    

We do have a holy trinity, though.  It is Service, Activism, and Spirituality.  We put our prayer into our work and into our activism. 

We take six vows:

1.       Devotion (Service) – through spreading the Word (of the intelligent plant) and Medicine-Making
2.       Activism – Dedication of Time to Local Politics, Local Causes
3.       Ecology - a commitment to reducing our foot-print
4.       Chastity – Privatizing sexuality / keeping ourselves covered out of respect for the work we do
5.       Obedience – to moon cycles
6.       Living simply – one bedroom, one car, one TV – wealth goes to creating more jobs, more housing security, more career paths for women

We celebrate every full moon with a fire circle.  When the weather is bad, we light up a large room with candles and have the service and celebration inside.  (Ancient wisdom.  Don’t make your tribe sick.)

And on most New Moons the Sisters gather, either by laptop connections, telephone conference, or in person, to provide healing to one another through word medicine, Taro card readings, energy healings.  New moons are for the women.  Full moons are for the tribe.

When Sisters of the Valley was just an idea, four short years ago, I thought that I would disqualify women who had ever shamed someone for using the cannabis plant.  I would ask that question first, and if they told me they had, then they couldn’t be a Sister.  But then, I met too many lovely women who had crossed over from the darkness to the light, and became advocates for the plant, and why should they be punished for having bought into the propaganda that was the gospel of the day?

We strive for excellence.  We need women (and men) who want to walk that walk.

If you are strongly against abortion, you shouldn’t even be talking to us.  What we hear when people talk about abortion being a sin is this:  I DON’T TRUST WOMEN TO MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS ABOUT THEIR OWN BODIES.  Actually, we just hear the first part:  I DON’T TRUST WOMEN.

If you are strongly pro-gun, as well, you probably aren’t going to like our organization.  If you believe boy parts are boy parts and girl parts are girl parts and deny the existence and rights of those who are ‘twin spirited’, gender neutral, or transgender, then you won’t like the Sisterhood, either.

We are a women empowerment organization.  Every single decision we make about our order has to pass these tests:  Is this empowering?  Or does it dis-empower women?  Would our ancient mothers approve?  Or disapprove?

If we banished women who took their vows, but ultimately decided to leave, is that empowering?  No, banishment, shunning, shaming -- all the same negative energy.  That’s exactly why our vows require no allegiance to the order.  Women can come join us, but they can also leave, and there is no shame, no dishonor, no negativity associated with ‘moving on’.    Not all things, not all experiences, are meant to be permanent.  You still learn and grow from them.   And I believe some of those women who leave will return, if we release them spiritually, gently, honorably . . . if we assist, rather than harm, in their path to move along.

If we told women that they couldn’t have a husband or children, is that empowering?  No, it is not. If you want to empower women, you let them choose their partner, and if and when they want children, how many.  We respect them.  They are women.  By virtue of the fact that they can give birth to children, they are closer to Creator God then men.  Yes, I said that.  That is ancient wisdom.  It’s sexist, but it’s true.

Our guiding question is, “What would our ancient mothers do?”  We know they wouldn’t make any sick person wait for more than 12 hours outside the cave, teepee, or castle apartment, to get an answer to a medical question or question about diet.  That’s why we try to answer all questions that come to us via telephone or social media, within that timeframe.  We don’t always succeed, as we honor the weekends as a break from our work, and so we can refresh ourselves and rest.  (Last year, we had long months of no days off and that is not a sustainable model, either.)

“What would our ancient mothers do, if they had the internet and the post office and could reach the world with their plant-based medicines?”  We are like our Beguine mothers and have no intention of hiding from the public, but rather – we work with them.  Helping them.  The Beguines had enclaves inside every castle during the middle-ages.  They had the first nurses; they rescued poor women and gave them housing security, food security, and honorable, spiritual jobs.  They were around long before Christianity came with its armies to convert the world.

Sister Kassidy began working for us as an apprentice in January of 2016 and by the Fall, she had completed her apprenticeship, and shortly thereafter, her and her man, Brother Rudy, came to inquire about making their participation in the Sisterhood more formal.  A few months later, she took her vows.

Sister Freya joined us as an employee in August, and by December, she was also interested in formalizing her involvement and her commitment to the order.  Sister Freya is a tribal elder.  She has many years of studies and practical work experience in the healing arts.  When women come to us with decades of experience, they are automatically Elders and they take their vows once.  We don’t put them through the same process that younger women are put through (meaning, apprentice positions and three times taking their vows under full moons).  Some women we are simply connecting with; for others, we are providing their first training and their first opportunities on a career path.  Some don’t fit neatly into either category (for the record).

Like Sister Kass and Sister Freya, Sister Eevee and Sister Gina and Sister Claire all worked  for the Sisterhood for a period of time before the subject was broached.  Although Sister Eevee shares the abbey with me, she is the only Beguine revivalist Sister that lives here on the farm.  Sister Kassidy and Sister Freya live in nearby towns and come to the farm every day.  Sister Gina lives and works in Sacramento making our holy soaps and prayer shawls. 

Sister Claire lives and works in Toronto and has spent a year building us a complete, real-time, state-of-the-art control dashboard for the many systems that drive our engine.  She is going to be playing a prominent role in growing our global business, as she is our Chief Risk Officer, our Chief Financial Officer, and is the person through which the Canadian Sisterhood shall grow.  She will be coming to the farm  next month, along with another Canadian Sister, to take their vows. 

In between these occurrences, three other women came to stay with us, worked for us, and ultimately, didn’t work out. 

For now, a Sister isn’t going to become a Sister until we meet her and work with her and qualify her.  But soon, I hope, we get some Sister-Generals in all the states and all the countries, so that everyone needn’t come here.  The participation and selection should be happening locally, but we need to get sister-leadership all over the place so that we can accommodate that dream.

Ultimately, we would like to have cottage-industry kitchens making our medicines, from locally grown cannabis, with the loving hands of local women.  We believe that cannabis is like honey and local is best.  We believe that the healing hands of the local women add to the benefit of the medicine for their people.  In other words, German women should be praying over Sisters of the Valley medicines made in a German kitchen from weed grown in Germany.  Same for Canada.  Same for each state in the U.S. and all the provinces in all the countries.

That’s a big goal.  It will take a lot of coordination.

In the meantime, we are looking at perhaps making the Sisters an exclusive offer to be our agents and to earn commissions from getting our products on the shelves of stores in their local areas.  There will be a path to Sisterhood and earnings there, very soon, I hope.  I am working on export licenses.  We don’t want to do anything ‘US only’ because ‘Murika scares the crap out of us.  Every day.

Wealthy women of the middle ages were attracted to the Beguines, as well as poor women.  The wealthy women were attracted by the Beguines’ excellence and wanted to be part of things because the mission was worthy (helping people) and the way they did it was spiritual, and with system-run operations to ensure that the quality of everything they made (textiles, medicines) was always excellent. 

So, what shall we do with wealthy women who want to help?  What shall we do with women like Aubrey Plaza?  We don’t take donations.  We aren’t a religion.   (But then, neither were the Beguines.)

What would our ancient mothers do? 

They would use the money to build housing for more women who need housing security, food security, and whom desire working in a quiet, compassionate, spiritual environment.  They would use it to give more women skills, to give more women business savvy, so more women can grow and operate and manage more businesses.  They would turn their wealth over to the Bougienage so that others who would have otherwise had no shot at property ownership or business ownership – suddenly get a chance.

My son came into my office one day, recently, and said “Mom, how come there’s a path and vows for the Sisters, but nothing for the Brothers?”  I smiled at him with a look on my face that warned him that what I was about to say, he wasn’t going to like.

“I’m sorry, honey, but I told you, this is a woman empowerment organization.  It’s about empowering women.  That’s why I did this.”

“But why can’t there be a path for the Brothers?  Why can’t you make something similar?”

Again, I hesitated at being blunt with him.  He took his role as fire-keeper, with Brother Rudy, very seriously these days.  They work together well, and he had been working harder and harder and taking on more projects and I didn’t want to interrupt his enthusiasm for our growing order.  Yet, I couldn’t avoid it.

“Because the Brothers don’t matter, honey.”  I said as kindly as I could.  His eyes, predictably, flashed with disbelief.

“Look, Alex, a Brother becomes a Brother when a Sister says so.  It’s very simple.  If you ask, which approach is the most empowering to women?  The answer is, let them choose.  So, as long as the Brothers are helping the Sisters on their mission, they are fine.  But if a Brother falls out of favor with a sponsoring Sister, he will have to find another Sister-sponsor or leave.  You have nothing to worry about!  You are my son, so you are a Beguine, so you are always welcome.  And anyway, all of the other Sisters would be happy to sponsor you.”

“That is f’d up.” He said to me. 

“That is ultimate feminine empowerment.  And you do believe that what is good for women is good for society?  That the higher women are elevated, the higher a society in whole is elevated? You do believe that men will benefit from female leadership?”

“I’m leaving now, Mom,” he said, sullenly closing the door to my office behind him.

Men have a distinct role with the Sisterhood.  They are to protect us.  They are to be our political ears to the ground hearing what people say about us and reporting back (politically, socially).  They protect us physically, they tend our fires.  They play an important role in our community and we will never want to be without them.  They are not disrespected.  We are simply focused on women empowerment and believe strongly that men will only benefit from this focus.  And of course, because we believe that choices are empowering, we will, from time to time, choose to partner with men who share our values.

Six months into working with us, Sister Claire said, “I am so shocked by all the support we are given by men, I’m kind of shocked that so many men connect to our message – a feminist agenda.  If men asked me to join their ‘male empowerment’ organization, I would tell them ‘no, no thank you, pass’.”

“It doesn’t shock me at all.” I explained to her.  “It is simply because so many of the men we meet were raised by single mothers.  They saw first-hand how it’s all a trap.  Slavery.  Spending hard earned money to protect custody rights.  Or fighting for child support.  And minimum wage jobs that make it impossible to support a family. The men, too, are tired of this country’s wealth going to a military machine that seems to be operating for the direct benefit of the top 1%.  They want feminine leadership, too. They crave the women taking their turn at running things.  They trust us not to do many of the stupid things men have done.  They trust us not to feed a war machine unnecessarily, not to feed our children poisonous lunches, not to set a bad example.  We’ve proved ourselves to the men and they now want us in leadership.” 

I may have convinced Sister Claire, but I’m not sure about my son.


Subscribe to our mailing list (scroll to bottom of landing page) if you are interested in keeping up with latest developments.  We barely get out one a month, so we won’t fill your inbox with unnecessary correspondence.  We speak when we have something to say. 

If you want to visit our personal, not-so-private library, click here.

If you want to see the video of us trimming weed with Aubrey Plaza, click here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Twelve Inch Metaphor

When I was rudely made homeless, I found myself not only selling things at flea markets, but buying things at flea markets. Among my treasures were the one dollar barbie dolls laying forlorn, naked, and abandoned in a pile at every street market.  Every one I rescued I would promise a hot bath, clean clothes, and an honorable, spiritual job.

I related to those Barbies as each one on the pile reminded me of other throw-away women.  They reminded me of how our society devalues women.  It reminded me of how fragile our lives are that one minute you can be in a nice house and the next minute, you can be evicted from your own life.

The forlorn, naked and abandoned Barbies comforted me, in a twisted way, as a metaphor for my own 'throw away' status, at the hands of a family member who turned me to the streets quickly, mercilessly, with a suitcase of clothes left over from a mountain trip and all the possessions to my name kept behind his newly keyed-locks.

Anyone who has experienced homelessness first hand, or even near homelessness, or such betrayal at the hands of kin, has experienced trauma.  So I'm sure it was the reason I would wander the flea markets feeling kinship to the abandoned Barbies in a stack.  Looking at them would make me feel grateful for the clothes on my back.  

During the long four months of sofa surfing and searching for an entrance back into a life - any life, I remember wanting more than anything, some privacy -- so I could go bathe the barbies and make them new clothes.  I wanted to restore their dignity as I needed so badly for my own to be restored.  I needed to restore their faith in humanity, in family, in goodness, and in happy-ever-after endings.

It's been three and a half years, but I finally have a sewing room.  And the first thing I did was not mend the many torn hems and gowns hanging in the closet, waiting to be tended.  I did not sew new bibs and veils, as are badly needed.  No, for my heart and my soul, I rescued my first two barbies.  I bathed them, I issued them new clothes, I gave them a robust crop to harvest, and now, they are weed-nuns.  Healing themselves as they heal others.

In my journey, I learned that you can't buy Barbie spiritual clothing and you can't buy miniature pot plants.  So what do you think?  Does that harvest look like weed to you?

Beguine undies.

Beguine Barbies?

If we launch a spiritual doll-clothes line, every priest, monk and rabbi will have a kola in his hands.  Every high priestess and every high nun (no pun intended) will have a kola in her hands.  If we do that, we can't call them Barbies.  They will have to be 'the 12-inch Metaphors'.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Lifting Local Canna-biz Bans

Wednesday night a local activist and real estate investor stopped by and asked me to attend a City Council meeting with him in Atwater - another little ghost town of the central valley.  For those of you who don’t know the central valley, all towns are pretty much the same.  Their city councils certainly look alike, and have the same people singing the same songs from the same songbooks . . . it seems that being a 'bold lawmaker' in the central valley is an oxymoron.

Most of all city council members across all the towns in the valley are collecting retirement pensions from public service jobs. The kind of jobs that tax-paying citizens support.  They’ve all earned their money by what I call ‘in the castle’ positions.  The town lawmakers have contempt for the very people who make their jobs possible simply because they (the city councils) are ‘in the castle, from the castle’ and the rest of us are castle-outsiders.  

The Atwater city council was discussing a particular ordinance that allows cannabis operations on a certain strip of land near the highway.  I thought it was a good idea to show up at their meeting and say “Hey, what you are doing is fantastic!  Setting aside a whole strip of dead land in your town, to be pre-permitted for cannabis businesses, that’s progressive!”  But then I also had to say that the idea of banning all retail sales of cannabis is ridiculous because, for one thing, no investor is going to consider setting up operations where they can’t sell to the locals.  Banning retail sales of cannabis is the same as saying “Hey, Dole, you can make your pineapple juice here, you just can’t sell it here.”  Can you imagine Mr. Dole signing up for that?

“Furthermore”, I explained to them.  “Retail sales of cannabis are already happening in your little town.  They have been happening all through prohibition.  You aren’t stopping retail sales from happening by banning them, you are just making sure that those activities stay in the hands of the black market.  You are just making sure that it is an underground activity and no taxes are received.”

For the record, I was addressing a city council whose city budget is near bankruptcy!  And I invited them all to our farm to visit and see what we do and learn something.  I recommended they visit Harborside in Oakland.

"In God We Trust" emblazoned across the building and a pledge of allegiance to the flag at the opening of every meeting.  My Canadian visitor felt like she was visiting a quaint old movie set.  

The clearing of their voices, the pompous positioning before they spoke – they don’t know this, because they don’t attend other city council meetings in the valley, they don’t know that not one of them sitting on the panel has an original thought on the matter.   Their voice-clearing and pompous deliveries of their words aren’t even original.   I guess that’s what bugs me the most.  They think they are so smart and so wise and so important.  But the words that come out of their mouths prove two things:  complete ignorance on the subject of cannabis combined with a complete ignorance on what is happening around them in other town-hall meetings, other states, other countries. 

I sometimes think that if God assigned an angel to watch over central valley town discussions of cannabis, the angel would quickly hang himself.  Or, the angel equivalent of dropping out of the game completely versus having to hear one more politician deliver as if it is golden words of advice, the warning against children getting their hands on it.  Or, a pompous warning that money and economics shouldn’t guide this heavy ‘moral’ decision.  Grrrrr.  Arrrrghghghgh.  Grrrrr!  YOU HAVE 12 YEAR OLD METH ADDICTS!!!!

Four citizens addressed the council Wednesday night.  All four of them were pro-cannabis businesses in their town.  All four of them said it is ludicrous to ban retail sales, to dis-allow retail businesses.  One was a doctor, one was a lawyer, one was a real estate magnate, one was a weed-nun.  No one spoke against, except the council members themselves.

After hearing us speak, after closing the public comments, they said the same stupid things that I have heard over and over again at council meetings in the central valley.  The same things that would make the angel of cannabis hang himself.

1.  We can’t have it getting in the hands of kids!  That’s why we can’t have retail sales.

All lawmakers in the central valley use that as their first go-to point.  Ridiculous!  They don’t care that we have a meth addiction epidemic.  They don’t care that children get into alcohol and pills.  They don’t care that their town is a ghost-town and has absolutely nothing for children to do.  They don’t care that since Castle Air Force closed, their population has increasingly gone down and the businesses that were here have moved out.  Let’s worry about the children getting into something that’s never killed anyone, and let’s ignore the meth epidemic and the extreme poverty that the central valley holds.

2.  Let’s not focus so much on the money.  The decision shouldn’t be about money.

Says the old fart who has never worried about money one day of his life!  I broke their rules on that one and stood up and reminded them that economic hardship is the number one promoter of disease and sickness.  I didn’t add this part, but I was thinking it: “If I grew up in your town, I would do meth, too.”

When I sat down, I just prayed for a bit of light to shine into their thick skulls.  (I accuse all, but really, there were one or two enlightened ones up there, they just don’t get to say much.  They maintain a foot in the cannabis closet.)  I meditated on a golden beam of knowledge flowing into all their heads.

If their town wasn’t so shabby and dilapidated and so on the brink of economic ruin, it wouldn’t be so infuriating.  But it is!  Melia Robinson just came out with an article that discusses five towns on the brink of ruin who were saved by the intelligent plant.  It discusses the fact that more people shop at the dispensaries than live in the town, because people come from all over to get their medicine.  It discusses how the tax revenues generated got them new fire engines, street lights, repairs and upgrades of their main street area.  Here’s the link.  Someone please get the Atwater city council members to read it:

As I sat and listened to them talk about how they will have to take more time (code for, have another public meeting, but stack it with people who think their way – narrowly, selfishly and uncompassionately), my thoughts went to the businesses I had done some consulting for in their town and one experience in particular.

I was working on their QuickBooks when a woman came in, big hair and tiny hips, a cloud of perfume around her, clickity click across the floor in her high heels and she was carrying a poodle and a purse and wearing gloves(!)  She said “Are the owners’ here?” and the receptionist told her they were not.  She said “Well, tell them they owe me a thank you, because Saturday night?  At around ten o’clock, I was driving by and I saw a homeless person sleeping in the alcove.  I called the police and they took care of it.  Tell them Gloria said ‘your welcome’”.  She turned away and -- clickity click -- off she went.

My soul was so offended and though I tried really hard to bite my tongue, I couldn’t do it.  As the door opened about twenty feet or so from where I was sitting, I shouted for everyone in the place to hear, “Yes, let’s not be outraged that someone is shelterless!  Let’s be outraged that they had the nerve to do that in front of your tender eyes!”  In my mind, I added, you ice-hearted bitch.  (Yes, I have an evil inner twin and she said that in my ears.)   I don’t know if she actually heard me, as the door opening had this noise attached to it and she was twenty to thirty feet away, but everyone in the office heard me.

It’s unfortunate, but I carry that image as the one in my head that represents, sadly, the attitude of many in that town.  I am sad for these women, because they are the same ones who hold up the patriarchy.  They don’t even know their words and actions are betraying their own gender.

At the end of the city council meeting, the woman in front of me turned and asked why we dress like we do.  I explained that we are Beguine revivalists, not nuns.  I explained that we dress formally out of respect for the plant, as a meditation to be in synch with our ancient mothers and their spiritual practices, that Muslim women are the only women who still dress like our ancient mothers and that makes them targets of discrimination, and so in Sisterhood with them, we also cover ourselves.  She listened to all that and said “I like the other kind.”

I was so surprised that I could only nod, smile, and walk away to catch up with Sister Claire, who had already headed toward the back of the room.   This woman was showing her disdain for our self-declared, self-empowered, woman-owned, woman-run spiritual and tribal operation.  I’m always surprised when women don’t support women as it seems unnatural.  Naughty replies danced in my head.  “We like the other ones too -- too bad they are going extinct.”  And “You like the other ones?  Would you like to come visit the next time those ‘other ones’ come visit?”  And “You like the other ones?  Are you intending to become one?”  I had to stifle a giggle because I had caught up with Sister Claire and she didn’t know the exchange had happened.  I don’t like to share hater comments with the Sisters.  Best they keep their thoughts positive while working the medicine and doing other important work.

Every time someone throws darts at our Sisterhood, I feel more and more connected to our Beguine ancestral mothers who were persecuted many times in history for being excellent at what they did, and for being excellent at what they did without a patriarchy telling them what and how to do it.  So I don’t take those arrows personally.  I accept that I have a calling, and that I am not certain where the journey will lead, but I am certain that I will strive, as my other Sisters do, every day, to make our ancient Beguine mothers proud.

Sadly, or – weirdly, the Atwater city council decided to schedule their next public discussion of cannabis ordinances on the summer solstice (june 21st).  We are flexible, however, and may likely move our celebration night so that we can pack their room with pro-job, pro-compassion, pro-planet earth people.  I know you are all out there.  Sixty-eight percent of the Atwater city population voted for Prop 64.  You should all come out.  Everyone in the valley should come out that night and be heard.  We need to stop this nonsense of them continuing to thwart the will of the people.  They need to listen to some Nixon tapes.  They need to understand that the bans against the plant were rooted in racism.  They need to understand that they are on the wrong side of this argument and that one day, their children will be putting cannabis in their grand-children’s granola to make sure they ward off a host of diseases. 

Maybe you can’t come to that meeting, but maybe you would like to call them or email them.  Their information is below.

And to end on a more positive note, at least one of the city council members spoke with me after about cannabis and specific diseases and she was also the only one who was ready to act on the ordinance so Atwater could get on with the business of the business.  So that’s one down and four to go . . .

James Price
City Council
750 Bellevue Road
Atwater, CA 95301

James Vineyard
City Council
Mayor Pro Tem
750 Bellevue Road
Atwater, CA 9530

Paul Creighton
City Council
Council Member
750 Bellevue Road
Atwater, CA 95301

Brian Raymond
City Council
City Council Member
750 Bellevue Road
Atwater, CA 95301