Shasta Bioregional Gathering VI (proposed: Sacramento Valley)


(Proposed for) Sierra Nevada Foothills, Sacramento Valley Bioregion and/or Putah-Cache subregion.

Proposed Issues to be addressed:

  • Sustainable Farming.
  • Wetlands and riparian restoration.
  • Watershed management.
  • Bioregional education.

Correspondences Regarding Prospective Organizing Committee Members:

Timothy McClure (The Eden Project); Glen Ellen, October, 1997.
Expressed interest in organizing the next Bioregional Gathering along with a North Coast Bioregion Gathering, and that he had a clear vision of what the next gathering would look like.

In March 1998, in a follow up letter, McClure suggested the Gathering be held every other year to encourage more local or smaller Bioregional Gatherings to happen independently.  He also suggested that future Gatherings be smaller in size so that attendees are able to be more involved.   

Pam McCann Occidental, January, 1998.
Announcement that there would be a meeting on January 17th at New College in Santa Rosa to start planning the next Shasta Bioregional Gathering.  To be discussed: past Gatherings and each one’s best components in order to create the most dynamic and participative gathering ever.  Also, a discussion on the planning process, and brainstorming about who’s missing from the team.  Lastly, an action plan should be in place by the end of the meeting.

Robert Erickson (Yuba River Watershed Institute), Nevada City.
In January, 1999, Erickson received a reply from Peter Berg regarding his interest in Shasta Bioregional Gatherings.  Within, Peter stated he had hoped to hold SBG VI in the Sierra Foothills, and that Planet Drum would take responsibility for selecting and assisting a Gathering coordinator, attracting charitable foundation support to pay a person’s salary, and otherwise helping with all aspects of event planning, implementation, and follow-up.  In turn, local co-sponsors receive contacts, recognition, publicity and support by being a co-leader.

Robert Thayer (UC Davis, Putah Cache Bioregion Project); April, 1999.
Thayer sent a letter sent to various parties to help Planet Drum seek a potential group or individual coordinator for an upcoming SBG focusing on the Sacramento Valley and/or Putah-Cache Watershed subregion.  The focus would be on issues concerning that area including: sustainable farming, wetlands and riparian restoration, watershed management, bioregional education, etc.  If a local organization with goals that are compatible with bioregional theory and action could be found they might stand to benefit from the macro-regional exposure that a Shasta Gathering could bring.  The other payoff would be an increased sense of regional identity, purpose, and action.

Later in April, 1999, in a follow up letter, Thayer wrote that he would not be able to be an Organizing Committee Member as he is already overextended with various current bioregional activities].

Jim Dodge (Department of English, Humboldt State University) [date and content unknown].

Correspondences Regarding the Possibility of Future Shasta Bioregional Gatherings:

Jerry Martien (Planet Drum Board of Directors Member; Arcata), wrote three public correspondences (Summer 1999, Midwinter 2000, May 2000) in which he asked about the continuance of the Shasta Bioregional Gatherings, and for a volunteer to be a SBG organizer.

First Letter (Summer, 1999):
Sent to past participants, individuals and groups throughout northern California.  It reviewed the history of the five gatherings, briefly described them as they evolved over the past decade, and noted that the strategies for convening them were no longer sustainable.  It also asked whether there was sufficient energy and interest to do it again, and if so, how it might be done.  Also, who would be its sponsors, what form would its organization take, and what would be its source of funding.

Link to First Letter.

Second Letter (Midwinter, 2000):
Circulated among the nine people who responded.  It summarized their ideas about the gatherings and noted that one group was still discussing possible sponsorship.  The nine letters were thoughtful and practical, and occasionally funny.  They were uniformly positive that the gatherings should continue. 

Within the second letter, Jerry summarized the nine responses:

  • Jeff Blue (Arcata, September 20): It would be disappointing to lose the momentum and energy of past gatherings.  It is critical for more people to become educated about bioregionalism and its value to our lives.  Perhaps it is time to recruit more broadly, and to et schools and the young more involved.  Bioregionalism needs to be a household word.  Funding for gatherings might come from optional membership fees, t-shirts, baked goods, handmade items, and ultimately foundations for long-term support.
  • Christine Vida (Berkeley, September 21): The gatherings are of major importance as a place to see people and make connections.  Letters and emails are not enough.  We should pick a time and place, make up the agenda when we get there.  It’s not the topic, it’s the people.  Bring plenty of stuff to show and tell.  It could be easier to secure a place in the off-season (I know some places in Mendocino).
  • Jim Dodge (Arcata, September 23): Bioregionalism is a daily practice of attention to the natural world.  If you are doing it every day, it doesn’t seem necessary to gather and talk about it.  Presumably, we are all fighting the evils that threaten our particular place, and we have the communication tools to share strategic information without meeting face to face.  The best part of previous gatherings has been off-agenda.  They should be free-form: secure a meeting place, agree on dates, bring shelter with three days’ food and some extra.  See what happens.
  • Steven Krolik (Bay Area, September 27): The pressing issue for urban dwellers is our deteriorating soundscape and quality of life.  We need to protect the ecoregion from further post-industrial impacts.  The gatherings are important, but Peter and Judy deserve a vacation.  Perhaps a group discussion is in order.  What is the next project?
    Steven also stated that he was too busy to be an Organizing Committee Member.
  • Bob Glotzbach and Gen Van Camp (Sonoma Creek Watershed, October 14): Your initial letter placed the Austin Creek gathering (SBG4) in the wrong watershed [perhaps a good argument for more intra-regional visits].  Less than half the SBG4 planning group was from that watershed, and the resultant travel burnout should be avoided in the future.   The most memorable gathering was at Mt. Shasta (SBG2), sponsored by a local activist group.  Recommends gathering information regarding each watershed of the bioregion (its activists, artists, constituent groups, issues) and invite delegates from all watersheds to come together and share information and celebrate.  Wasn’t this the original idea?
    In a January 2000 follow-up letter Glotzbach suggested that there be a ‘face to face’ meeting of interested parties with a process facilitator, and that it might uncover some environmental group that wants to do a gathering.
  • Brian Edman (Petaluma, October 16): The issue of bioregional gatherings has come up at meetings of Sustainable Sonoma.  Peter and Judy have brought information about past gatherings and their correspondence with possible sponsors in Davis.  Some of the meetings about the organization and proprietorship of SBG have turned into acrimonious power struggles.  Yet the idea persists, and will be a topic of Sustainable Sonoma’s January 24 meeting.  Gatherings should have a fire ring, lots of workshops, great food, Jim Dodge’s poetry, Judy’s dancing, and no Rock music.
  • E. Elias (Arcata, October 16): Yes, the gatherings should continue.  No, they have not been replaced; there are always new people to expose.  They should be supported by volunteerism and passing the hat.  Former attendees should write letters of support, which might be used in grant applications.
  • T. McClure (Kenwood, October 16): We need a new vision of the future and ourselves.  This is the North Coast bioregion, not Shasta.  We need a North Coast Environmental Council, a decision making body to address the issues of sustainable life in this region.  Past gatherings have not held the interest of active members of the environmental movement.  People have complained of no focus, no purpose, no direction.  A North Coast Action Group would convene a gathering, and from this would evolve the Environmental Council.  The gatherings (a Summit) would be well planned, but not previously agendized.  It would be a real participant-driven event, with an equally real focus.  The proceedings of the gathering would be a tool for further action.
    McClure also stated that he believed in making the Gathering more focused on accomplishing something concrete for the local environment, specifically the North Coast.
  • Mickey Dulas (Mattole Watershed, November 10): The bioregional gatherings have changed my life, and brought me to this watershed from Oregon.  They are important for sharing our knowledge and experiences.  I’m not sure how to insure continuance of this goodness, but will help move the next one.

Generalizations regarding these letters were made by Jerry Martien:

  • The bioregional gatherings need to be both confirmation (we live the agenda) and education (we need to widen the conspiracy).
  • The gatherings will continue to be the labor of a few who are able to take the time for it.  The ideal sponsor is still a local activist group.
  • Much of the organizing effort will be an effective outreach to the watersheds.  The letters suggest a geographical focus on the watersheds of the North Coast.
  • Aside from outreach, the principal task will be to secure a site, set a date, and coordinate the basic camp setup.  The event might be cheaper and simpler if both the agenda and food are left to the participants, perhaps one common meal and general council.
  • Except for participant fees, there is still no definite prospect of funding.

Jerry also noted that at the present time the only planning focus was ‘Sustainable Sonoma’.

Link to Second Letter.

Third Letter (May, 2000):
This mentioned that the long-term funding and continuance of the gatherings was still unresolved.  That Planet Drum does not presently have the staff or resources to fill this gap.  Watershed groups are fully occupied within their region.  They are beginning to build alliances and networks among themselves, from Sustainable Sonoma to the Klamath-Siskiyou People-Nature Partnership.  And, perhaps one of these alliances will be a unit of organization for future gatherings.

Planet Drum will continue to advise and consult with any group interested in the sponsorship of a bioregional gathering.  It will pursue funding and cooperate in efforts to promote greater inter-regional coordination and inter-watershed exchange.

Two More Responses were then received since the previous (second) letter:

  • Stephanie McBrayer Crescent City area, State of Jefferson, November 17: The gatherings had been personally very important to her.  She proposed gatherings be held every other year so as to allow more time for planning arranging and amassing funds, yet not lose momentum.  Also suggested that Planet Drum use grant money or an endowment to hire a full-time staff person to coordinate inter-watershed communications, to actively work on finding sponsors to convene the gatherings, and to coordinate the Bioregional Gatherings.  McBrayer also said that she could help coordinate the next Gathering sometime in or after 2002, if it were held in Jefferson.
  • The second response [unknown]: This person stated that the potential sponsor had too many local commitments to take on an event of such magnitude.  Also, the person reiterated the need for Planet Drum to undertake an inventory of watershed groups and their activities, and consider a more active coordinating function among them.

Link to Third Letter.

The Third Letter was summarized in an Announcement within the Planet Drum Pulse Summer 2000 issue.

In conclusion, through these three seasonal letters, Jerry Martien expressed a willingness to continue the discussion of these issues, and to keep the wider constituency informed of any developments.

Potential Prospective Organizing Committee Members:

Rafael Borras, May 2000 – Feb 2001.
Suggestion that the Gathering might become attached to Northern California Active-Fest 2001 (gathering of activist interested in issues of: environment, popular democracy, social justice, human rights, alternate healing, building local and global communities based on peace & cooperation).

Joseph Candia (Principal, Venture Money Hunters), Nov. 2002.
Possible Organizer for a future gathering.

William Croft (Lightfield Systems), Oct. 2006.

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