Thursday, May 25, 2006

"a situation of the needy versus the greedy"

In my e-mail this morning was a link from Nona over at Fish Wars to an effort by a small group of celebrity activists, including Joan Baez, trying desperately to save a 14 acre community farm in urban South Central L.A.

They were invited there by Julia Butterfly Hill. She's the one who climbed up a giant redwood in northern California a few years back in an effort to save that tree and a small grove around it from the logging industry. Naming the tree "Luna," it was over two years before Julia's feet touched the Earth again!

But I was a little freaked out at the synchronicity of this morning's e-mail from Nona, as I explained when I wrote her back, to wit:

Nona:

Thank you for the Hill--Baez link. What an incredible 'synchronicity'? Not 15 minutes ago I awoke from the night. And lying there, remembering I'm probably still in the same Universe this morning that I went to sleep in last night, I took a minute to reflect on someone for whom I hold the deepest of admiration and reverence. I'm talking about Julia Butterfly Hill! I know you know how in awe I am of someone who will climb up a tree and not come down for two years, so strong her belief in a cause. I wondered what she has been doing lately, for I knew that whatever it was, she would be putting forth an effort for something worthwhile. And just so you know, I never wake up thinking of Julia Butterfly. Never! But I did this morning.

After putting together a pot of coffee, I ambled into the computer room--and there was the answer to the question I'd asked just moments earlier! Thank you, Nona.

And so, putting my Jungian "scarab beetle moment" aside, I followed Nona's link to the story. In short, it told of Julia Butterfly Hill and the cause she's taken up on behalf of people trying desperately to save, what is for them, a very important piece of property. What it entails is a 14 acre plot of land that approximately 450 "squatters" farm in urban Los Angeles. They grow food crops on it. The current owner, a man named Horowitz, rebought the land from the city of Los Angeles (details of that in link below) in 2003 for $5 million. He's now asking $16.3 million.

Dada's not sure that Horowitz's more than tripling his investment in three years was a wise business decision. Seems to me he should ask a lot more for those 14 acres, particularly in light of the fact he's dispossessing over 450 folks working that land as aid in their survival. (Okay, so I was being sarcastic, forgive.)

So far the effort to raise the owner's asking price to buy the land for these farmers has stalled at a little over $6 million dollars! That's when Julia Butterfly Hill put in a call for any celebrities interested in raising awareness of the effort to save this little urban farm.

Just imagine if Horowitz were to sell his land to the "squatters" for the $6.3 million they've raised. He'd make over 20% profit in the three short years he's owned it. Something in today's economy most any of us peanuts investors would be more than satisfied with. But no, Horowitz isn't satisfied with a reasonable return on his money. He wants to turn a three year, 226% profit on his investment!

Now that's good business. Dispossessing hundreds of people from their livelihoods while tripling your money! Imagine another Universe, maybe just one or two over from ours where a Horowitz would take the money raised by these people, realize a 20%+ gain on his monies and let the people keep their land. But that only happens in some other Universe(s), not here, not in ours.

In the words of Daryl Hannah who answered Butterfly's call and is currently camping on the land in a tent to bring attention to this said, it's truly "a situation of the needy versus the greedy." And that's the Universe we inhabit!

Thanks Nona for answering my waking question of what Julia Butterfly Hill is up to these days. And thank you, Julia, for rallying the celebs like Baez and Hannah to bring attention to the people's plight. And a *special* thank you to a man named Horowitz who shows us all what kind of money can be made if you have huge sums of money to invest to make your piles even huger. I'm sure in a Universe just one or two over from ours, this kind of business never crosses one's mind.

For the whole story, see the L.A. Times, "Celebrities Crop Up at Farm Protest"

10 comments:

meldonna said...

Dada,

I can't think of anything that fights urban blight more than green things grown to feed families. I notice you are also a Milagro Beanfield Warrior from your profile. I live in an apartment in a little three-story brick building in near downtown Seattle, run by a private non-profit organization; they do good work, providing actual affordable housing in the city, and it's needed, as I watch more and more overpriced condos popping up around me in Belltown, like evil ugly mushrooms. Ever since I've been here, I've been saying "we should be growing tomatos on the roof." I absolutely love the idea of growing food gardens in urban areas, and if you've ever Googled a satellite view of any American city, you have to wonder why we don't utilize more solar power. All those flat-topped buildings!

Good on the celebs joining in on this fight to save the garden. Truly money well-spent. And now I can forgive Darryl Hannah for being in Steel Magnolias!

peace out

Anonymous said...

Long live Julia Butterfly Hill (her name alone qualifies her for HST's "god's own prototype" award = too beautifully exotic for mass production)! A rare soul indeed.

But, dada, Horowitz will NEVER sell for a mere 20% profit (warning: tax lesson follows). Because it is investment property (not a personal residence), he would then owe Federal taxes of 15% & Calif taxes of apprx 10%. Then consider his 3-yrs of paying prop taxes, finance interest, insurance, and contrast that with the yield from any alternative safer investment he could have made. I have ultimate sympathy for the "squatters", but if they can't get backing to at least offer Horowitz a 100% profit, it's unlikely he'll sell, unless he possesses a conscience & desire to do public good (hah!).

I'm unfamiliar with your "Jungian scarab beetle moment" phrase, but it sounds intriguing. My favorite scarab beetle observation is by Richard Dawkins (evolutionist). He was laughingly berated by creationists for propounding the gradual mutation theory with what they must have thought was ultimate disproof "what possible advantage does the scarab beetle incur by looking 10% like a piece of dung?" His response: "better 10% a piece of shit than 100% dead"!

ps, loved your "what the cat drug in" comments at nona's. And, couldn't agree more, Meldonna: I always suspected Darryl Hannah must have talents that did not manifest in her acting, which gods-know are god-awful. -- D.K.

some_maineiac said...

I think the celebrity participation and elevation of the public consciousness in this matter has all the potential in the world to shame Mr. Horowitz into accepting something slightly less than his interpretaion of "the best and highest use of the land"...i.e as much money as he can wring out of it...

that phrase always turned my stomach when I heard it used by the members of the Planning Board and the developer who wanted to turn 180 acres of gentle forest which abutted my former home into million-dollar homes...they succeeded and I moved away...

while I'll leave it to dada to elaborate on the meaning of his "scarab beetle moment", I think he is referring to this cut and paste from one of my Carl Jung reference sites...

"Synchronicity is the occurrence of two events that are not linked causally, nor linked teleologically, yet are meaningfully related. Once, a client was describing a dream involving a scarab beetle when, at that very instant, a very similar beetle flew into the window. Often, people dream about something, like the death of a loved one, and find the next morning that their loved one did, in fact, die at about that time. Sometimes people pick up he phone to call a friend, only to find that their friend is already on the line. Most psychologists would call these things coincidences, or try to show how they are more likely to occur than we think. Jung believed the were indications of how we are connected, with our fellow humans and with nature in general, through the collective unconscious."

DK, in regards to your rational analysis of Horowitz's likely motives, I interpret that as tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and take heart in the sentence that closes that paragraph, because it implies that I do have a conscience at least...I've never been able to partake in the insane piles of money that can be made in real estate...in the instance where I sold my primary residence, I was happy to make a gross profit of 6%, perhaps because I had direct experience of its worst shortcomings..."neighbors from hell" and a high water table...and I felt trepidation for the starry-eyed couple who wanted to start a family there...I disclosed the latter shortcoming, but attributed the former to my own judgemental ways and allowed for the possibility of change or the existence of a different opinion...

on a side note, I noticed yesterday that Messrs. Lay and Skillings got their asses nailed to the wall on the Enron scandal and will be sentenced on September 11...how appropriate...

dada said...

meldonna: Ah, "Steel Magnolias"...I wonder why that didn't make my Top Ten list as one of my 17 favorite movies?

But Milagro Beanfield War sure did as hell did for the very spirit of it you appreciate. And more...

Because when I get really fed up, when I feel really in need of some turban renewal, I can access that high country of northern NM in an easy day's drive. And from the smattering of people I've met there, the movie not only captured their independent spirit, but some of the mystical qualities many embrace and exude.

But your circumstances there, in Seattle, of a private, non-profit org. providing affordable housing in downtown sounds like something rare, alien almost, to this world, this Universe.

I apologize for continually slipping into comparisons of this world to the same world that exists in the next universe over, or the one on the "other side" of that one (excuse my thinking of multi-dimensional places in two dimensions). I suppose it's a cheap escape to 'what might have been' here.

Bit the fact that it does in small pockets along with 14 acre gardens sprouting sustenance, vying to exist amid a society more inclined toward growing profits...well, gives me simultaneously, feelings of hope and despair.

Anonymous said...

Maineiac, I've had neighbors from hell a couple times! But in both cases, they moved away before we did. Seeing those moving vans show up caused my own little happy dance, tempered by sorrow over who would be their next victims. But I've also had neighbors from heaven who made my & everyone's life they touched better for knowing people like that exist.

Enjoyed the Jungian scarab beetle explanation of those "coincidence or crap" moments that give one such pause. And yes, you understood my horowitzian sarcasm correctly! I also enjoyed your "hunting cat reprimands" at enigma's which I understood to be a tad sarCATstic, too?

Oh, hahaha, Lay & Skilling will be literally getting their asses nailed to more than one wall soon, eh? I'd like to see some of their former emp'ees, the ones who had their enron-pensions gutted, allowed a weekly ass-ripping visit. I would have said daily, but they'll need time to recover from the special midnight treatment of their fellow inmates. Why does this thought give me such pleasure? Must be that alternate universe sustenance, since (sigh) they'll probably be at the golf-club prison, awaiting Bush's pardon as he leaves office. D.K.

dada said...

DK...thanks for the tax lesson on property ownership. See, I have to confess. I had read this nice blog over on meldonna's.

She was making the point that our house speaker, Dennis Hastert, was explaining Bush's tax cut to we little people; why we should just shut the fuck up, we ain't any gettin' any damn tax cut because, as Hastert tells us, "well, folks, if you earn $40,000 a year and have a family of two, YOU DON'T PAY ANY TAXES.."

And I think I'm guilty as Hastert here, because I was thinking people who sell a few acres of land for $16 million didn't pay any taxes either.

I think Maineiac pretty well explained my Jungian scarab moment. (Thanks, Maineiac.)

It's kinda like one of those little mystical *bingo* moments that we, here, lost somewhere between quantum particles, waves and the Buddha's "terma" encounter every so often...synchronicities--yes! When an object or person like Julia Butterfly from two or more disparate sources collides without ones brain without rhyme nor reason, leaving one to react with something like, WTF was that??!!

dada said...

Maineiac: With your injection of the Enron boys into the comments here, it's gotten real interesting. My emotions retraced the classical bell curve from first hearing these clowns had gotten some justice, to learning the possible sentences that could be handed down (on 9/11 yet!), to--My, My, such an angry retort by our nice DK here...what is it about the great business leaders that could sink poor DK to such depths??!!--to Lay's post conviction statement in which he publicly climbs neath his lord's robe thinking mercy can be had by a little oral gratification of his saviour or some damn thing, to today's Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman where we learned not to get too excited yet. It's possible this could all be overturned.

Oh hell, I'm sooo sick at the state of things. I'm beginning to think HST had a very lucent moment right at the end.

BTW Maineiac, thanks again for explaining the scarab thing. Your explanation was far better than mine.

dada said...

DK...as I just remarked to Maineiac... I was really taken aback by your Lay Skilling punishment phase. So angry! See, I was thinking prison for them would be a couple minimum security apartments just off the green of the 14th hole somewhere. (Oh, I was hoping for something more....like Alcatraz with your weekly ass rippings...)

But after Amy Goodman today, I'm sooo depressed, I now see your punishment as way too humanitarian for these bastards.

Forget the weekly ass ripping visits allowing time to heal between them. I say let 'em get their asses ripped daily, hell hourly would be better. I'm so back in the trench of the bell curve. But I enjoyed the ride, particularly the few brief moments at its apex.

Anonymous said...

but, dada, GWB has said he hardly knows kenny-boy! he certainly wouldn't be lettin a virtual stranger 'neath his robes for some oral contact, would he? what would his jeezus-lovin base think? oh, that's right, he just wants to shelter him like a mother hen, nothing untoward goin on there, nope. afterall, his hardcore puritan followers will (ahem) swallow any glob GWB spews. didn't he just say he was sorry if his dead-or-alive remarks were misinterpretted in certain parts of the world? It's getting harder to keep afloat in all this BS. no wonder my crude-meter is tilting into the danger zone. does a bell curve have a bottom, or do we all just learn to shut up (as Hastert tells us to)? D.K.

Nona said...

Trivia about Darryl Hannah that I picked up here and there:

She formerly dated Jackson Browne who reportedly physically abused her.

She's a proponent of biodiesel. Our local biodiesel dealer went down to L.A. to meet with her and Willie Nelson regarding alternative fuel sources.