Monday, September 7, 2009

Walk #248: Friends of the Napa River...

Saturday night. Another barbecue after work, this time with oysters, salmon and steak. Afterwards, R. and M. and myself walk to the "Friends of the Napa River Festival".

This gathering is to celebrate the Napa River. The efforts to protect this river, and the agricultural preserve, are documented in two excellent books by James Conaway. The result is that this river is making progress.

For seventeen years this festival of the Napa River has occurred every labor day weekend. What a grand idea! To celebrate the natural environment of your own community! Thousands of people show up for this event. The evening is capped off with a concert by the local symphony orchestra (they are quite good!) and fireworks.

But something is missing; something more sinister is present. The roots of this radical movement to save the river have been co-opted. What is missing is a political agenda. What is present is corporate sponsorship by Target and some of the big wineries. The sponsors even get their own white glove section, complete with free wine, waiters, tables and comfy chairs.

No political talks. No visits from local and national environmentalists. No Pete Seeger. No reports on how the river is doing. No reports on the lack of salmon.

There are booths. Lots of food. And beer. I buy a Sierra Nevada and notice that the throng has overwhelmed the court house. The same court house where Joni and I recently had a hearing and were sneered at by those who make decisions for children. This is where our lawyer was called enmeshed and Joni was called "over protective" and "pathologically unwilling to let go".

I decide to drink my beer on the top step of the courthouse. Certainly, this must be illegal? I drink my beer there to thumb my nose at our recent treatment in court. I drink to celebrate that you can defeat the powers that be who have made the wrong decision. I drink for all those dreamers out there who fight for things against impossible odds. I drink to my family, who I haven't seen for way too many days.

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