The Charter Review Commission – The future of the Islands is at stake

May 10, 2021 by stephenshubert

The Charter Review Commission is continuing to meet, and several of our leading local Democratic Party participants are members of the CRC.  There are several meetings coming up that you should know about. 
   *This Tuesday from 10:30-12:00 the process committee will be discussing the rights of nature.  Go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84297134309#success, or go to  https://www.sanjuanco.com/1764/Charter-Review-Commission and click on “join the zoom meeting” next to Charter Review Process under Charter Review Committees. 
   *If you can tune in to the CRC meeting next Wednesday, May 12, you’ll get to hear the Climate & Environment Committee’s meeting about the creation of a new Climate & Environment Department headed by a Climate & Environment Commissioner for SJC that will have the authority and the time to deal with climate and environmental issues in the county that those currently tasked with that responsibility don’t have the time for.  The meeting is 10am-12pm on May 12. You can join that Zoom meeting at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85271643269
or dial +1 253 215 8782, meeting ID: 852 7164 3269. 
   *Later that day from 4:00-6:00 that committee will present to the full CRC.  You can attend that one at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85271643269
   *Finally, there will be two final Town Halls – June 1 & June 2, from 4-6 pm.  I hope you can attend at least one of them. This will be the final opportunity for community members to chime in on the CRC’s work over the last several months, our recommendations, and to voice your priorities again, or perhaps for the first time.  Join Zoom Meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81389616014 ; Meeting ID: 813 8961 6014  Dial by your location: +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma); Meeting ID: 813 8961 6014  Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kc3jo8TjR  For more information, please contact Olivia Roseberry, Vice Chair at oliviar@sanjuanco.com.
            Related to the hearings this Wednesday that focus on climate change and how our county will deal with it, Alexandra Gayek has some proposed revisions to the current language being considered by the committee.  She is one of our most involved volunteers and has attended all the meetings and done lots of research.  Please read the following pieces from her, and if you are willing, please send an email to the commission members encouraging them to adopt her suggestions:
            From Alexandra – I suggested some changes to the Climate and Environment Committee’s working draft of the creation of the Office of Climate and the Environment, which after some discussion, the majority of the committee voted to reject. Below is what I sent. To see the changes vs. the original that they ended up passing last week, you might need to click “edit” after going down to the document. I am not attached to my specific wording, but do feel strongly that three points need to be added to what they adopted, and if you agree, ask that you write to the commissioners before Wed May 12 in support of these changes:
   *That the document clearly states that we must stop all actions that disrupt our ecosystems. (The phrase “climate altering activity” could be interpreted too narrowly to mean only that we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, rather than more broadly to include all the things we do that harm our terrestrial and marine ecosystems.) “Ecosystems” is being used in place of “Nature”, which is what I really mean, with the definition of Nature as “nature as the interdependent, regenerative, self-regulating, evolving web of living beings, earth, sun, moon, water, air, land, minerals, and physical and metaphysical forces that cycles in the solar system, within the universe and time-space reality we recognize.”
   *That it includes the concept that our management of Resource Lands, water, energy production needs to use regenerative (not just sustainable) practices (we can’t afford to sustain things at the current level of destruction)
   *That it has a citizen advisory committee whose members do not have any conflicts of interest with the task of 100% promoting the mission of the Office. –conflicts including business (employment, spouse, etc.) or board membership, in anything that profits from promoting any particular approach to addressing climate change or ecosystem protection (Those conflicts are already inherent in all the needs County government is trying to address, which is the whole reason to create this Office, and if the Commissioner, staff, or committee needs to consult with those with particular business interests, they still can.)
 Written comments should be sent to all the commissioners, not just those in the Climate and Environment Committee, because the CEC has already voted on what they will propose. The next step is to present it to the full Charter Review Commission, at which point, as I understand it, the document could be up for discussion if other Commissioners want to, or if enough members of the public ask for it.
          Once the full Commission votes to accept a form of the document as a proposed charter amendment, the only other opportunity to influence its content would be at a Town Hall on June 1 and 2. But at that time, ALL of the proposed amendments will be up for comment, so it’ll be harder to get attention focused on just this one.
Please know that I believe the Commissioners are incredibly dedicated and doing a great job with a very challenging task, and my intention is not to “make them wrong” but to demonstrate that there is public support for language consistent with the level of change that’s needed to really solve the problem we’re all trying to solve. We’re all in this together, and though the Commissioners are our elected representatives, we need to support them in creating the best thing we collectively can come up with, and then campaigning to get it passed once it’s ready for the ballot, since we all equally will be living with the result.
          Thank you so much for your involvement!
Here’s who’s on what CRC committee:
          Climate and Environment:
Anne Marie Shanks (chair) –annemaries@sanjuanco.com
Kevin Ranker – kevinr@sanjuanco.com
Sharon Abreu – sharona@sanjuanco.com
Liz Lafferty – lizl@sanjuanco.com
Kyle Davies –  kyleda@sanjuanco.com
Bob O’Connell – robo@sanjuanco.com
Dick Grout – richardg@sanjuanco.com
Tom Starr (he’s the staunch Republican who believes that Climate change isn’t real, and/or that humans aren’t causing it) – toms@sanjuanco.com
          Process Committee (this is the group meeting to try to craft a bill of rights)
Bob O’Connell (chair) – robo@sanjuanco.com
Liz Lafferty – lizl@sanjuanco.com
Patty Garcia – pattyg@sanjuanco.com
Kyle Davies-  kyleda@sanjuanco.com
Bill Appel – billa@sanjuanco.com
Jane Fuller – janef@sanjuanco.com
          Commissioners who are not on the Climate and Environment Committee (who will hear the presentation from CEC on Wednesday to the full commission, and could vote to make the OCE language stronger)
Bill Appel – billa@sanjuanco.com
Patty Garcia – pattyg@sanjuanco.com
Jane Fuller – janef@sanjuanco.com
Tony Ghazel – tonyg@sanjuanco.com
Janet Brownell – janetb@sanjuanco.com
Paul Dossett – pauld@sanjuanco.com
Maureen See – maureens@sanjuanco.com
Dave Anderson – davea@sanjuanco.com
David Dehlendorf – davidd@sanjuanco.com
Olivia Roseberry (vice chair of full commission) – oliviar@sanjuanco.com

What follows is the language proposed by the committee to which I would like you to submit my proposed changes above:

Proposed changes to OCE document discussed by Climate and Environment Committee on April 28, 2021

OPTION 1

Scope:  The San Juan County Office of Climate and Naturewill serve as a branch of San Juan County government working in a proactive and collaborative manner to ensure San Juan County maintains an action-oriented focus on combating ecosystem disruption and climate-altering activities, working across government to mitigate the impacts of climate change and prioritizing the protection of Nature, cultural and natural resources.

The Office of Climate and Nature will work to advance climate action and adaptation by  conserving, restoring, and protecting natural ecosystems and reducing San Juan County’s carbon footprint, promoting agricultural , water, and  energy independence through conservation and regenerative practices, controlling population growth and development, and proactively adapting to changing ecological and economic conditions while ensuring the protection and preservation of cultural resources and Nature.

San Juan County Climate and Nature Advisory Council: The San Juan County Council shall appoint the San Juan County Climate and Nature Advisory Council to serve as a citizen’s advisory committee to the Commissioner and the Office on issues relevant to the mission of the Office. This body shall include at a minimum two members representing Coast Salish Tribes,  and  and exclude any members with conflicts of interest to promoting the full mission and scope of the Commissioner and Office.

OPTION 2

Scope:  The San Juan County Office of Climate and Environment will serve as a branch of San Juan County government working in a proactive and collaborative manner to ensure San Juan County maintains an action-oriented focus on combating  ecosystem disruption and climate-altering activities, working across government to mitigate the impacts of climate change and prioritizing the protection of natural ecosystems, cultural and natural resources.

The Office of Climate and Environment will work to advance climate action and adaptation by   conserving, restoring, and protecting natural ecosystems and reducing San Juan County’s carbon footprint, promoting agricultural, water, and  energy independence through conservation and regenerative practices, controlling population growth and development, and proactively adapting to changing ecological and economic conditions while ensuring the protection and preservation of natural ecosystems and cultural resources.

San Juan County Climate and Environment Advisory Council: The San Juan County Council shall appoint the San Juan County Climate  and Environment Advisory Council  to serve as a citizen’s advisory committee to the Commissioner and the Office on issues relevant to the mission of the Office. This body shall include at a minimum two members representing Coast Salish Tribes, , and exclude any members with conflicts of interest to promoting the full mission and scope of the Commissioner and Office.

The following reasons support these changes.

1. The Relationship between Climate Change and Nature

A stable, life-sustaining climate is inseparable from the magnificent, complex, intricate system that is Nature. It’s a great big, complicated system of multiple interconnected cycles including the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, the water cycle, migration cycles, cycles of weather systems, cycles of nutrients in the oceans. It relies on massive global biodiversity everywhere in the web of life.

What we are calling climate change is a SYMPTOM of the disruption of Nature itself. It’s a symptom of:

•           Destruction of whole ecosystems—the excavation, drilling, mining, irradiation and poisoning of land and groundwater;
•           Removal and poisoning of forests, prairies, wetlands, rivers;
•           Flooding, plant community disruption and obstruction of wild animal movement caused by dams, roads, fences, farming and ranching, introduction of invasive plant species, pipelines, fires and fire suppression, widespread land development of every kind;
•           Destruction of marine ecosystems by killing and overharvesting living beings, polluting and using oceans as dumps for every kind of toxicant and garbage, disrupting animals with marine noise and marine vessels;
•           Eliminating the safety of the air with pollution, wind turbines, planes, drones, rockets, and now, blanketing the planet with the microwave radiation we know of as 5G.

If all this is what is behind climate change, and the level and rate of climate change is currently spiraling out of control, it is NOT enough to only look at reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. We need to be doing everything possible, not just the minimum, or what we think we “can afford,” while continuing to maintain our disruptive lifestyles. We need to be considering the cost of NOT doing everything possible.

2. The Place of Humans in Nature

While I recognize that “Environment” is the term used throughout our federal, state, and county governments, and by most conservation-oriented NGOs, it is no longer the best term to use to accomplish what must be accomplished.

“Environment” means what is around us, not what we are part of. It continues to support the false belief that humans are not part of nature, and we can continue to operate as if it is in our collective best interest to continue the colonial mindset of prioritizing money, power, conquest, and individual private property “rights” over life on the planet.

It also has a LOT of baggage. “The environment” is a familiar term that we treat as if everyone knows what it means, but in my experience, means different things to different people, and seems to either get people into their heads, pointing to science and arrogantly judging those who don’t agree that climate change is real as stupid, ignorant, childish, or evil, or into mockery and anger, treating those who argue for environmental protection as a bunch of radical socialist fools perpetrating a hoax, who threaten their rights, freedom, and way of life. It causes those who argue for science to be afraid to argue for what most of them actually cherish the most–God, faith, love, spirit, holiness, sacredness, while those who accuse and mock them pose as the only group that values faith and religion while acting in exactly the opposite manner that any religion actually teaches. Neither group is actually behaving as if they are the sentient, intelligent, consciously loving, compassionate species that supposedly raises humans above other animals.

I am not suggesting here that anyone on this commission is in either of those groups, but instead that we consider using language that might elevate our own thinking, the conversation with the public, and in the office itself, out of those partisan ditches and invite people into their hearts.

Essentially, my personal goal is emerging to be this: to help people experience the indescribable wonder and magnificently intricate system that is Nature, that people really feel the beingness of each tree and leaf and insect and bird and whale and deer and fish and amphibian and reptile, as individual beings deserving of honor, respect, life, freedom to roam, reproduce, eat their natural food in its natural place, take up space in air, on land, in water that is free of pollution and human interference… AND that people really feel the force of life itself that flows inseparably through the whole system that is Nature, through all the indentifiable cycles including water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, all the cycles we don’t yet collectively recognize, AND that people really feel that that same life force flows inseparably through US–that we are not inherently evil intruders or superior rulers, but precious, cherished living beings just like every other precious, cherished living being. Not separate from, superior to, or inferior to the rest of Nature.

The remainder of the changes I suggest are based on the understanding of what Nature is, and that climate change is a symptom, as is the massive wave of species extinction, of the disruption of Nature by human actions when humans operate from the colonial mindset of prioritizing money, power, conquest, and individual private property “rights” over life on the planet.

In my 25 years as a physician, I have observed that this mindset is the underlying source of feelings of and associated behaviors from guilt, inadequacy, victimhood, powerlessness, anger, violence, martyrdom, depression, anxiety, addiction, poor sleep, poor eating habits, relationship problems…and thus illness. This mindset of separation and domination is simply unhealthy for individual humans as well as for larger society globally, and certainly for life on the planet. This is why I feel strongly that we should use every opportunity to move toward a more loving, Nature-based mindset. Thus, my suggestion to use the word Nature.

Thanks for reading,David Turnoy
Chair, San Juan County Democrats
360-376-4165
davidgeri@rockisland.com

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