The Ayn Rand Academy …free markets, wet pants, and the launch of the most pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrappiest charter school in America

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I occasionally get awesome ideas that, because I have a soul, I can’t act on. And I had one of those ideas just now, as I was sitting here, reading about a third grade teacher in Vancouver, Washington who just recently instituted a pay-to-potty scheme with disastrous consequences. The information at this point is scant, but one imagines this teacher, who is now on administrative leave, instituted this program – in which students earned play money which could then be redeemed for food, toys, bathroom breaks, and the like – in order to pass along a valuable lesson on responsibility, prioritization, and the value of the almighty buck. The initiative, as one might expect, came to an abrupt end once kids started showing up at their homes carrying bundles of urine-soaked clothing, having opted to spend their money on treats and toys instead of toilet time. As the teacher has yet to be identified, it’s hard to say for certain, but my guess is that we’ll find him, or her, to be a conservative activist type, obsessed with the notion of personal responsibility, and convinced that the children of today lack the character to become self-made titans of industry, etc. Whether or not that’s the case, though, it got me thinking that a charter school built around the greed is good and sink or swim lessons put forward by the unashamedly-sociopathic Ayn Rand might do incredibly well in today’s post-Tea Party world, in which a growing number of people really seem to think that public education is nothing more than a training ground for limp-wristed, socialist, wine sippers. I’m not quite sure yet what a Randian charter school would look like, but I suspect that the football team would play without helmets, the school lunches would be priced to maximize shareholder value, and that students would be encouraged to ruthlessly pursue their rugged individualism wherever it might lead them (i.e. bullying would be encouraged).

aynrandacad2Here, in case you’re interested in knowing more about “pay to potty,” is a clip from the article linked to above.

…Third grade students at Mill Plain Elementary earn play money that they can exchange for treats, KIRO-TV reported. The money can be used to buy things like popcorn or small toys, but it is also used as a bathroom pass.

In two cases last week, children chose to spend money on treats instead of bathroom breaks, and wet themselves because they didn’t have enough money for a trip to the restroom, according to their parents.

The investigation began after KATU.com posted a story in which Jasmine Al-Ayadhi said her 9-year-old daughter, Reem, wet herself in class as a result of the “pay to potty” policy.

“I’m so angry!” Al-Ayadhi told KATU.com. “When a child has to pay money to use the bathroom…It’s inhumane. That’s a health issue.”

Al-Ayadi said she didn’t have a problem with policies that teach students the value of money, but that making students use it for bathroom breaks was outrageous…

After the KATU.com report, a second parent, Merchon Ortega, filed a similar complaint saying that her daughter, Lilliana, also had an accident in the same class on the same day…

According to KATU.com, Ortega’s daughter had the $50 needed to use the bathroom, but didn’t want to spend it on a bathroom break. Al-Ayadhi’s daughter said she wanted to buy popcorn like her friends, and was told she couldn’t use the bathroom if she didn’t want to pay…

Posted in Education, Ideas, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Are Ann Arbor’s school dress codes out of date and sexist? Two high school students seem to think so.

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A couple of weeks ago, Ada Banks, a sixteen year old student at Community High, and her friend Julia Hale, a sophomore at Pioneer, drafted a petition aimed at persuading the administrators of Ann Arbor’s public high schools and middle schools to reconsider their dress codes. “As students who must follow these codes,” the two wrote in their petition, “we are speaking out against their discrimination and shaming against girls for what they wear to school.” To date the petition has well over 1,500 signatures, and there are at least preliminary signs that AAPS administrators are taking notice. (Word is that some of their online dress code related material has already been changed.) I reached out to Banks in hopes of finding out more… You’ll find our interview below.

First, though, by way of background, here’s a clip from the Forsythe Middle School handbook which is somewhat representative of the dress codes found elsewhere around the district:

EXPECTATIONS FOR SCHOOL DRESS: Students are expected to dress appropriately for school. Any clothing or accessories that are considered dangerous, disruptive or potentially dangerous or disruptive to the learning environment are prohibited. Students are not allowed to wear chains as jewelry, as a fashion statement, or to hold wallets since there is a possibility that they may inadvertently cause injury or be used inappropriately. Bandanas may not be worn, gang symbols may not be displayed and clothing that depicts alcohol or drugs may not be worn. Hats, coats and backpacks must be left in lockers during the school day. On colder days, sweaters, sweatshirts and fleece tops may be needed for students to be comfortable in all areas of the school. Shorts and skirts for girls should be no shorter than fingertip length. Leggings must be worn with a fingertip length top. Revealing tops, see through tops, sports tops, plunging necklines, bare midriffs, halter or spaghetti strap tops are not permitted. Undergarments should not be visible. For boys, drooping pants are not permitted and underwear should not be visible. Muscle shirts are not permitted. We ask that parents assist their child in making good decisions about appropriate school attire for academic success. Students who dress inappropriately will be asked to change their clothing.

And here’s the relevant passage from the Pioneer High School handbook:

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[note: Ann Arbor public schools each administer their own dress code. Community High, as I understand it, does not have a formal policy.]

MARK: So, I hear that you think Ann Arbor public schools should be clothing optional.

ADA: Despite what you might have heard, no one’s trying to go to school naked. We just want to be able to dress ourselves without trying to meet some of the ridiculous rules set by school administrators… Changes need to be made.

MARK: OK, what is it about the current Ann Arbor Public Schools’ dress code standards that you find objectionable?

ADA: Just to clarify, schools within AAPS set their own individual standards, so it’s hard for me to speak for the whole district. The majority of dress code rules are aimed at female students, though, and have hard-line expectations that are almost impossible to meet. Furthermore, these policies often contradict themselves. And, if anything, they promote the sexualization of young girls by treating them as sexual objects from the age of 11 years old.

Sending a teenage girl home for showing cleavage is telling them their body is more important than their education. It’s really just an unnecessary policy, and Community High proves that, in that they don’t have a dress code.

The administration at Slauson justifies their dress code by saying it’s meant to “comfort” students by shielding them from distracting, disturbing and offensive clothing. When I was at Slauson, I was not comforted by having to sit in class wearing jeans in 80-degree weather. Making a girl sit in the office, missing a test, because her clothing doesn’t fit school code is not providing a less distracting learning environment. Having to go and buy different clothes for school is not less disturbing to a student’s education. Having a 13 year old girl bend over in front of her teacher in the hallway, to demonstrate the conformity of her dress, is not providing a more appropriate or less offensive atmosphere for students.

MARK: What, according to the current dress code standards, is an offense that will get someone pulled from class or sent home? What, in other words, are teachers hoping to discover when forcing girls to bend over in front of them? Can you provide specific examples?

ADA: I’ve talked with students from each school, they say girls are usually sent home for shorts. If they don’t go home, they have to sit in the office until their parents can bring them new clothes. Or they have to change into clothes that the administration provides. “It’s considered punishable,” a friend of mine at Pioneer said, “if your shorts don’t reach your fingertips. It doesn’t matter how long your arms are. And tank tops are against the rules. Straps have to be at least three inches wide. And neither you’re back, or your midriff area can be visible at any time. Shorts, though,” she says, “are the biggest thing.”

Here’s a picture from the Huron High dress code, which I find almost shockingly offensive. Of the example photos, two address male students, whereas nine are directed toward girls.

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MARK: Do you acknowledge that there’s a need for dress code? In other words, is it just the parameters that you’re objecting to, or is it the fact that a code exists at all?

ADA: I don’t think a dress code is necessary at all, but I do acknowledge that schools are unlikely to abolish them completely. The rules are what really need to be changed. They’re too specific to be applied to everyone. There’s a difference between preventing students from dressing inappropriately and harassing every girl who’s shorts go past her fingertips. Students are capable of dressing themselves in an appropriate way. A 12 year old girl in a tank top should not be treated like a sexual object.

MARK: What kind of response have you gotten thus far to your petition drive?

ADA: We’re currently at 1,614 signatures, with 30+ pages of supportive comments from people all over the country. We’ve gotten support from male and female students of all grades, AAPS graduates, family and friends of students, even one from Australia. People seem to really like it. It kind of affects everyone. Even if it doesn’t make a difference to a specific person, it probably would to one of their friends. The bottom line is it’s just an unnecessary policy that makes the lives of a lot of girls harder.

MARK: You noted that Community High doesn’t have a formal dress code. How do they address dress related issues, and do you think their system could serve as a model for the rest of Ann Arbor’s schools?

ADA: Community has more of an implied dress code, and it works perfectly. It’s true that some clothes are inappropriate for school. At Community if someone wears something inappropriate they’ll either realize it, because they’ll feel uncomfortable, or someone will tell them. Then they just know not to wear it again. We don’t need to be sending girls home for wearing acceptable clothing just because it doesn’t fit a code. Teachers don’t need to be taking time away from their classes to humiliate 12 year old girls by measuring their shorts with rulers. (This happened last year at Slauson.) Community has the highest test scores in the district – no one is distracted because girls are allowed to wear what they want. When you take away the stupid rules, everyone just kind of finds the line for themselves and everyone’s lives become a little bit easier.

MARK: Is there evidence to suggest which system engenders more personal responsibility? In other words, I wonder if the natural consequences that one has to contend with at Community are more likely to result in increased internal regulation and personal responsibility than the alternate top-down enforcement system that we’ve been discussing.

ADA: I’d say Community’s system is definitely more effective than others in preparing students for real life, and that’s kind of the point of school, right? If seeing a girl dressed out of code standards is really that distracting for someone, they need to get over it… In the real world, girls show their shoulders. They definitely shouldn’t be coddled.

MARK: Clearly, as you point out, these current dress code rules seem to target young women, so, at least on the surface, there appears to be a certain degree of sexism. To play Devil’s advocate for a moment, though, isn’t it true that it’s generally young women that are pushing the boundaries of fashion in a high school setting?

ADA: Maybe, but at Community girls aren’t running around in anything scandalous. We dress ourselves, and no one seems offended. Students should be able to wear what they want as long as it’s appropriate, simple as that. Girls aren’t trying to change this policy so they can dress provocatively or get male attention. Here’s a quote from one of the comments on our petition:

We do not wear dresses to distract boys. We do not wear “short” shorts to distract boys. We do not wear tank tops to distract boys. We dress for ourselves, and ourselves only, which is why we are asking for the ability to dress ourselves in the morning. -Kate Vogel, Ann Arbor

If we’re talking about the clothes themselves it’s a much different conversation. You do have a point, and we’re looking at this from two very different perspectives, but, as a teenage girl, I don’t think teenage girls are the problem. It’s true, young women are becoming more and more sexualized and that shows in the way they dress, but to say they’re “pushing the boundaries of fashion” is a stretch. We don’t decide what is and isn’t considered attractive, we don’t control what the stores sell. The only reason we are “pushing boundaries” is because the things we want to wear aren’t actually inappropriate and would be perfectly acceptable anywhere else. It’s unreasonable to tell a girl she has to wear shorts that go halfway down her thighs when there’s nowhere she can buy them. Seriously, go to the mall and try to find store aimed at teenagers that sells shorts with a 3-inch inseam.

MARK: I’m sure the corporations would say that they’re just giving girls the kinds of clothes that they’re demanding. Regardless of the impetus, though, the result is that American girls are becoming sexualized at progressively younger and younger ages. And, you’re right – what we’re seeing play out in school dress codes is a reflection of this disconnect between popular culture and what I guess you could call the traditional American conception of what it means to be a girl. With that said, I’m curious if you’re at all sympathetic to those who see dress codes as a way of pushing back against the hyper sexualization of girls.

ADA: I understand that the codes are directed more towards girls without the intention of discriminating against them, but because they are prone to more revealing dress. Dress codes can be effective in that they generally prevent girls from wearing informal clothing, so I can see why one would think this is desexualizing them. Unfortunately this approach does the opposite. One of the main problems is it starting so early. It teaches girls from a very young age that their bodies are to be viewed in a sexual way. An 11 year old girl does not wear shorts with the intention of being promiscuous. Telling her she can’t wear them because it’s distracting to boys is literally sexualizing her. An 11 year old boy is not so distracted by seeing a girl wear shorts that he loses his ability to focus, and, if he is, that shouldn’t be her problem. By the time these kids even reach the age where this becomes a somewhat relevant problem (adolescence) they’ve already been taught for two or three years that girls are sexual objects and boys are incapable of controlling themselves. This causes huge problems when teens actually start to develop a sexuality. Then the teen boys have been taught they can’t be held accountable for misbehavior if a girl is dressed a certain way. The girls that want male attention think they’re supposed to dress provocatively to be noticed and everyone else thinks they’re supposed to shame them for doing so. This is a dangerous mindset to instill in our children, especially during some of the most developmental years of their lives. These policies are reflective of a society that oppresses women, they sexualize young girls and contribute directly to a culture that blames women for sexual harassment and assault.

MARK: When you say that we should change dress codes because stores in the mall just don’t sell clothes for girls that aren’t, for lack of a better word, “sexy,” it sounds as though you’re just accepting the sexualization of girls. I’m wondering if perhaps, in addition to going after the school system, you might also be inclined to focus some attention on the other side, and call out these companies that are ramping up the sexualization of girls.

ADA: I don’t accept it, but I also don’t oppose women showing skin or dressing “sexy” in the right setting (not at school). By taking that stance I wanted to emphasize that girls aren’t necessarily trying to be promiscuous – they’re wearing what’s in style and it’s considered acceptable everywhere else. What’s considered acceptable is determined by what the stores are selling, what the world’s standards are, etc. Girls can’t be held accountable if what is considered normal doesn’t match school dress code, and they shouldn’t have to go buy different clothes for school. I do feel strongly about the influence corporations (as well as social media and widespread technology) have on the younger generation, and I’d love to make a difference there, but I’m also supposed to be studying for finals right now…

MARK: I know it’s hard to answer, but, in your opinion, do teen girls have better or worse body self-image now than they did a generation previously? Does comfort in wearing these types of clothes, in other words, reflect increased self-respect or lack there of?

ADA: I think it’s really dependent on the person. I think the ability to dress more and more provocatively in public can have both negative and positive effects on a person’s self-respect. It’s really a hard question to answer, especially if you factor in social media, which is new to this generation and has a huge impact on girls’ self-image. I guess I’d say overall it’s probably worsened, but I’d credit that mostly to social media and new technology making it easier and easier to compare oneself to others.

MARK: I guess I can appreciate the arguments on both sides. On one side, it shouldn’t matter at all what a young woman wears to school, right? And it’s offensive that administrators employ arguments about how certain outfits worn by young women are “distracting.” The feminist in me says, “If something’s distracting to the point that boys can’t concentrate, you should be counseling the boys, and not criminalizing the activities of the girls.” It comes very close to the “blame the victim” kind of stuff we often see in rape cases, where people suggest that women were “asking for it” because of the way they were dressed, etc. And that, I think, we all can agree, is reprehensible. On the other side of the coin, though, I’m sympathetic to administrators and their desire to ensure that the environment is one in which education can happen. Regardless of where people fall on that continuum, my hope would be that most folks would acknowledge that there’s a need for open, honest debate on the subject, which includes not just the voices of adults, but also of students.

lessdistractingADA: I do see where administration is coming from and what they are trying to accomplish, but It’s really just not working. The fundamental reasoning for a school dress code makes sense, students should be dressed appropriately for school. Students should be able to focus on their work. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is how the administration tries to accomplish that. It’s just plain contradictory. How can female students focus on their work when they’re taken out of class for dressing out of code? It’s really hard for me to imagine a scenario where someone’s outfit is so distracting that other students cannot learn. Teenage boys are not lewd mad men incapable of controlling themselves. Teenage girls are not attempting to lure male students away from their studies with tank tops. I don’t know what people are afraid will happen without a dress code. To a certain extent, girls will always distract boys and boys will always distract girls, regardless of dress. [The image to the right shows a female AAPS student’s response to being forced to wear “the shirt of shame” given to young women who come to school wearing tank tops.]

MARK: Granted, it’s completely different, but it brings to mind recent well publicized cases where kids have been sent home or expelled for bringing nail clippers and aspirin with them into school. Administrators were, no doubt, reacting to something that’s very real in both cases – school violence and drug use – but they’re pursuing enforcement in such a way as to seem almost laughable. Clearly there needs to be flexibility, but you’re dealing with a system where flexibility isn’t encouraged… a system where, perhaps because they’re fearful of lawsuits, they strive for consistency across the board.

ADA: I’m not sure what people are so scared of. There’s already a district-wide standard that says students may not dress in a distracting or inappropriate way, so no one is actually allowed to come to school naked, or in some sort of legitimately distracting apparel, regardless of the school’s specific dress code.

MARK: I’m curious to know your thoughts on boys, and how they fit into this conversation. Has anyone, for instance, asked them how they feel about how young women dress and the pervasive idea that they can’t control their own behavior? Also… and I know it’s likely hard for you to say, as you weren’t around a generation ago… but I wonder how the ready availability of hardcore pornography might have changed this dynamic. Does it make boys more sexually aggressive, or does it perhaps exhaust their interest?

ADA: I think the policy is incredibly condescending to male students. They are not lust-fueled monsters lacking self control around women. I think that as porn is made more and more accessible it has many major effects on society, especially the younger generations. Because it’s staged it really alters some people’s expectations of sex and disconnects them in a way. Other than numbing them to seeing girls with skin exposed, I don’t think it has much of a real effect on dealing with dress codes.

MARK: So, what are the next steps with your campaign? Is there a plan to deliver the petition to administrators, and request specific reforms?

ADA: I’ve been communicating with the AAPS superintendent Jeanice Swift, and she’s been incredibly helpful and supportive. She’s decided to start a Student Advisory group next fall with representatives from each of the high schools, and to make student dress code a priority for work in that group.

Along with that, several other students and I have been collecting stories from students, recording comments from the petition, discussing possible compromises, and raising awareness. Finals are coming up, so we’re all a little stressed, but we’re working as much as we can to get this done, and its moving in a very promising direction.

Posted in Ann Arbor, Art and Culture, Education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 46 Comments

Celebrating Memorial Day by killing non-American invasive species on Water Street

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I know tomorrow is a holiday, and most of you already have plans, but, if you’re up for a little fresh air and exercise, and don’t feel like going to the parade, I’ll be out at the Water Street prairie between 9:00 and 11:00 doing my best to eradicate the Spotted Knapweed that’s threatening our native plants, and I could use some help.

As most of you already know, a little over a year ago, a lot of folks in the community came together to make over 3,000 seed balls (containing 8 species of native grasses and 27 species of flowering plants) and launch them by way of slingshot onto a vacant acre of downtown Ypsilanti known as Water Street. Well, happily, it looks like a lot of those flowering plants are coming back. Unfortunately, though, so are the invasive species we’re trying to displace, like Spotted Knapweed. I was on the site a few days ago and took out over 250 of the evil little fuckers, and I’m afraid that I only put a dent it in… And that’s why I’m heading back tomorrow morning, in hopes of digging out several hundred more before they grow to maturity and start putting out seed.

Coming from Europe, Spotted Knapweed, for those of you who have never dealt with it before, is among the worst of the invasives. Not only does it spread incredibly easily, but, as it tastes terrible, few herbivores want to eat it. And, even worse, it has an incredibly long tap root, which aggressively sucks water from its neighboring plants, destining them for failure. And, as if that weren’t enough, Spotted Knapweed is also thought to be allelopathic, meaning that it releases a toxin from its roots that slows the growth of nearby plants competing for resources. As much as I love plants, I think it’s safe to say that this one sucks, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that its spread is putting our downtown native prairie in jeopardy.

All is not lost, though. While they’re spreading like crazy, they’re easy to spot, and relatively easy to dig up. And, if we can get them out of the ground before they go to seed, those tens of thousands of flowering plants that we put in the ground may begin coming up soon.

Again, I know it’s late notice, and I don’t really expect anyone to come out and help me on the morning of a holiday. But, as long as I was heading out, I thought that I’d at least mention it… So, if you have a shovel, and want to help, come on out to the intersection of Michigan Avenue and River Street tomorrow morning at 9:00.

And, if you haven’t already, be sure to like the Water Street Commons on Facebook.

And remember… “There’s no better way in the world to celebrate American superiority than by destroying evil Russian plants.” (It’s like we’re remaking Red Dawn with plants!)

update: There were only two of us, but we put in a few hours of hard work and killed a hell of a lot of Spotted Knapweed. I stopped counting after digging up 750 plants, but I know, by the time that I quit, I must have passed the century mark. There’s plenty more, though, if you’d like to take a turn. (Remind me, and I’ll make a video showing you how to spot them, dig them up, etc.) Here’s a photo of one of our collection piles, to give you a sense of how much we got done.

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[This Memorial Day post was brought to you by the best war movie of all time, Dr. Strangelove.]

Posted in Uncategorized, Water Street Commons, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hamtramck gets an armored military assault vehicle… One wonders how long until they find a reason to use it

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I was alerted today, by friends in Hamtramck, that their police force had just taken possession of an armored military assault vehicle, and I was reminded of a good conversation we had here about a year ago on the growing militarization of American police forces. If you have time, I’d encourage you to go back and read it. Assuming you won’t do that, though, here are two of my favorite quotes from that post.

The first comes from Battlestar Galactica’s Commander William Adama:

“There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.”

And the second, regarding possible solutions, comes from the end of the 2006 report by the CATO Institute:

…End the Pentagon Giveaways. The primary reason so many police departments across the country can afford SWAT teams is the Pentagon’s policy of making surplus military equipment available to those departments for free, or at steep discounts. The Pentagon used its defense budget to buy that equipment, a budget given to it by Congress on behalf of American taxpayers for the purpose of defending Americans from threats from abroad. It’s perverse to then use that equipment against American citizens as part of the government’s war on domestic drug offenders…

If you haven’t done so already this year, please consider making a donation to the ACLU Foundation. They’re one of the only organizations in our country willing to take on the fight against a government putting tanks on the streets and drones in the sky against its citizens.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Detroit, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

The parable of the California sardine collapse

The fishing industry in California was built on sardines. While they lasted, they were abundant, easy to catch, and simple to process. They were ground for fish meal, which was used to feed chickens. They were processed for oil. And, during the war, they were an invaluable source of protein for American soldiers fighting in Europe. By the 1930s, according to the J.B. Phillips Historical Fisheries Report, “the Pacific sardine fishery in California was the nation’s largest commercial fishery. And, in the 1936-37 season alone, fisherman had harvested “an incredible 700,000 tons” of the small, oily fish.

Pioneering marine conservationist, Frances Clark, a University of Michigan PhD, was among the first to anticipate a rapid decline in California’s sardine population. Clark, seen here, with her associate John Johnson, recording the deceasing age and size of sardines being caught off the coast of Monterey in 1936, tried to rally support for a reform in fishing practices which would see the species exist into the future, to the benefit of all.

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Clark, a respected researcher with the California Department of Fish and Game, knew this exponential growth in the sardine processing industry was untenable. She called for an immediate decrease in sardine fishing, but the industry pushed back… Among other things, they moved a good deal of their operations to floating processing plants three miles off the coast, and thus beyond the jurisdiction of Clark and the state.

By 1937, the situation had become dire. Clark warned, “The future of the California sardine fishery remains in doubt. Present indications are that the demand exceeds supply.” She called for the annual catch to immediately be cut in half. This plea was ignored.

The following comes from the Pacific Fishery History Project.

…(Arthur) McEvoy, in his excellent book, The Fisherman’s Problem, tells the story of the conflict between state and federal biologists over whether the fluctuations in the sardine catch were a sign that the stock was overfished. The federal biologists sided with the industry and argued the catch was fine. The California Fish and Game biologists, headed by Frances Naomi Clark, argued that too many fish were being taken and the stocks were in danger of collapse…

By 1936 the (floating processing plants) took 250,000 tons, or 32 percent of the entire catch along the Pacific coast. But as labor costs increased and sardines dwindled, Clark reported that by the end of 1938 all floaters had ceased operations off the California coast. At least some of that processing equipment went north to Oregon…

Within five years, the annual sardine catch off the Monterey coast would have dropped by 90%, and Cannery Row would be a ghost town.

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It’s hard not to see a parallel with what we’re seeing today relative to global warming, especially as it pertains to corporate responsibility. Then, as now, it would seem that folks attempted to downplay the human role in the disaster.

“Again and again, the California Division of Fish and Game has warned the sardine industry that no fish population can withstand the vast exploitation experienced by the sardine in the last ten years,” said Clark. “The industry is loathe to face this fact, and when any lack of fish arises it marshals all possible explanations which will point the finger of guilt from man.”

Let this be a reminder to everyone out there, as if we needed another, that we cannot allow industry to lead our response to the very real threat of global warming. Corporations are not in the business of sustainability. They’re in the business of extracting value from resources. They consume and move on. And we should never forget that.

update: All of this sardine research of mine was done a year or so ago. As part of our quest to visit every known filming location associated with the American masterpiece Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the family and I decided to travel across country and visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where, as you may recall, Mr. Spock first communicated with the time traveling whales who would save our planet from what appeared to be an enormous toilet paper tube of doom. While we’d just gone with the intention of sweding a few of our favorite scenes, and then moving on to the intersection of Columbus and Kearny, in San Francisco, where Captain Kirk delivered his brilliant “double dumbass on you” line, we ended up spending the day, watching otters frolic and learning about sardines. (The Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at one end of what was historically a long stretch of sardine canneries known as Cannery Row.)

update: OK, I just couldn’t leave you on that depressing note… So here’s a photo of Arlo at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, looking at sardines. All is not yet lost. There is hope. The sardines are coming back, and there’s a whole new generation of young people who won’t be content to just sit by as people our age continue to kill the planet we need to live.

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update: Also, we aren’t really into Star Trek tourism. We went to California to show Alro, who was then still pretty new, to his relatives on the west coast. We actually didn’t figure out the Star Trek IV connection until we’d returned home and started making our way through the Star Trek catalog.

Posted in Environment, Food, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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