Walnut Rise

Growin' it in the ground

Violence begets violence, I always tell the kids

Dick Cheney said that the whole world is a battlefield, and Jeremy Scahill’s 2013 book, Dirty Wars, details the global intended and unintended consequences of opening up every region and country to US “intervention”, “kinetic actions” and find, fix, finish targeted assassinations, starting after September eleventh, 2001.

The thread running through Scahill’s remarkable book is that state violence begets non-state actor violence, which begets state-actor violence, which builds the ranks of non-state actors and begets more violence. The cycle reminds me of the clan killings and almost ritualized violence I read about from Albania (not Armenia, as I noted in a previous post), in the book No Friend but Mountains.

Whenever the kids are fighting, hitting each other and running away from the resulting violent response, I say, somewhat cryptically, “violence begets violence.” The kids usually just stare quizzically. But it is so true, and so hard to break the chain. Diplomacy works, however.



I want to visit Afghanistan, and this book explains why I cannot

For…oh…sixteen years or so, I’ve been deeply saddened by the war our country has prosecuted in Afghanistan. Part of that sadness comes from a desire to see Afghanistan and its mountain culture and people; as I have explained to our children, we cannot safely visit Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.

So, when I found this book, I was so excited for a thoughtful perspective on mountain culture and the violence that seems linked to mountain peoples: No Friend but the Mountains: dispatches from the world’s violent highlands. Author Judith Matloff traveled to mountain conflict zones around the world, partly through a Fulbright Scholarship, to research the similarities and differences in mountain culture and the origins of conflicts in the world’s mountains.

As the book is slim, it is more a journalistic glimpse into mountain conflict than an exhaustive survey of and comprehensive engagement with extremely complicated violence and its roots. In the conclusion, Matloff shares a visit to Switzerland, where extremely participatory democracy unites clannish cantons; the author suggests that if all countries can enable this form of engagement with governance, mountain conflict would ease. White, Western European and industrialized Switzerland seems not the best example to hold all mountain conflicts and peoples to.

This criticism aside, I loved reading about people spread throughout the world, living lives amidst violence, in the mountains. Matloff visits the Himalaya, the Caucasus Mountains, the Colombian Andes, the Chiapas Highlands, Armenia, Kashmir, the Pyrenees and the Swiss Alps. Notably, she does not visit Afghanistan; instead, she interviews a US Army infantryman who was afflicted with altitude sickness when he was deployed to Afghanistan. I guess the takeaway is that Afghanistan is off-limits to even the experienced conflict journalist with credentials.

In the Himalaya, Matloff interviews village elders of the Rai people who are growing cannabis for export to India, illegally. Ah, a connection to Walnut Rise!

Growin’ it in the ground!



Black Lives Matter, and it is time to make that clear

When I don’t know what to do, I recall Cornell West’s declaration: “Justice is what love looks like in public.” I keep recalling these words whenever a jury returns an acquittal or mistrial or not guilty verdict in a police shooting of an unarmed black man or woman. No justice.

I just finished Michael Eric Dyson’s newest book, in the form of a sermon from a black Baptist minister to white America, Tears We Cannot Stop. Dyson powerfully lays out the experience of a black man in America, with passion and outrage. And gives us, white Americans, a task: to work with, make friends with, learn about, care about black Americans. His conceit is laid out in the word RESPONSIVE.

R: Pay reparations.

E: Educate yourself about black culture.

S: School your white families.

P: Participate in events, protests, rallies.

S: Stop “othering” black folks.

N: Make new friends of black folks.

S: Speak up against injustice.

I: Take care of and protect immigrants.

V: Visit churches, prisons and schools.

E: practice empathy!

I really appreciate these simple tasks. And I’ll be working to integrate them into my life!


Oh, and the first round of cannabis plants is now over head-height! Go Jesus OG!

Growin’ it in the ground!


The French Revolution, from Enlightenment to Tyranny

Ian Davidson’s newest book, The French Revolution, from Enlightenment to Tyranny, is sobering, illuminating, and topical to today’s complex problems. Wow. Published this year, Davidson’s book traces the Revolution from bourgeois roots in challenging the king to the era of constitutional monarchy to the overthrow and execution of the king to the tyranny and Terror of Robiespierre’s time, to finally the dramatic, split-second overthrow of Robiespierre and his conspirators. And finally, Davidson sketches the outlines of the post-Revolution era.

I have been aware of the French Revolution, but until this week, I had never read a book that laid out the Revolution step by step. I knew the painting “Death of Marat,” but had no idea how Marat fit into the chaos. I picked up the book, thinking that I would find lessons for our tortured political times. Yes, it turns out: there are lessons! But, they are complicated lessons. The tension between more educated citizens and the sans-culottes brought to mind the “liberal coastal elites” and the “Make America Great Again” voters, of course. The passionate speeches on nationalism, populism coupled with the conspiratorial actions of Robiespierre (including the executions of opponents) obviously brought to mind our current President, Mr. Trump.

I’m grateful to author Davidson for publishing this short book, full of timely observations and text-based insights.



Tears for post-9/11 years

I just finished reading The Looming Tower, al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11, by Lawrence Wright. Published in 2006, it traces the history of jihad from Sayyd Qutb, the Egyptian philosopher of jihad, to the collapsing World Trade Center towers. Wright shows us exactly how al-Qaeda formed, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s backgrounds and roles, the tragic bungling of the existing intelligence surrounding the plane hijackers, and the televised collapse of towers in New York. As Wright builds the story, I grew increasingly anxious, even knowing the ending.

And then, as I read about people jumping out of the towers and bin Laden celebrating, I started crying. Not just for all the people who died on September eleventh, 2001, but for all the pain that terrorist act has caused for so many people in so many countries since then: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt, USA, France, UK, the Philippines, Iran…the list goes on: Syria, Israel and Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia. And sure, bin Laden is to blame, but so are the Egyptians who tortured Ayman al-Zawahiri, and George W. Bush, and Obama with his drones, and “Mad Dog” Mattis with his aggressive prosecution of the Iraq War. The pain is immense, and global. And the US declaration of war on a tactic (terrorism) has failed. We need to chart a new course, one that emphasizes life, not death; justice, not revenge. We need to leave Afghanistan, and do what we need to, in leaving, to set the country on firm footing.

Now, I know that the Trump White House will not do any of this, but we’re sixteen years out; maybe it will take another sixteen? No matter who is in the big seat of POTUS, we still need to step back from violence.


Oh, and the first round of Jesus OG are five feet high and rising!

Growin’ it in the ground!


Jeremy Scahill’s newest book (founder of the Intercept)

I just finished Jeremy Scahill’s recently-published The Assassination Complex. With a foreword by Edward Snowden and an afterword by Glenn Greenwald, this is a book that places itself squarely in opposition to the Obama Administration’s eight years of national security policy. The book details the drone wars and the extra-judicial killing program of Obama, meticulously, through analyzing a leaked PowerPoint presentation labeled Top Secret/No Foreign Nation.

These days, I tend to view the Obama years through rose-tinted glasses. What a logical, calm, compromise-seeking, thorough President he was! And then, reading this book, I am reminded of the deep hypocrisy he displayed. Of the promises he failed to keep. The afterword is an especially-damning assessment of Obama’s embrace and broad extension of the Bush national-security complex. And of the liberal, Democrat acceptance of this extension.

Rather than rely on the judicial system and habeas corpas to prosecute terrorists, Obama the professor of constitutional law chose to kill them, on other country’s soils. No rights. No chance to argue their case. Just a Hellfire missile aimed at a cell phone.

We can do better.


Growin’ it in the ground!


Language Matters

In the passion and action of responding to President Trump, I have noticed many people and organizations have embraced language and metaphors of war, military and violence. I strongly believe that violence begets violence, and that when we adopt the language of violence to describe our response to violence (whether it be physical or verbal), we begin to think in violent terms and begin to act in violent ways.

Now, it is probably easier for me, a white male, to argue for non-violence, when I have experienced little actual violence from the state or on behalf of institutional actors, but it is not just me who makes this case. We devolve to violence when confronting violence if we think and talk in its language.

But, it is very difficult in a culture steeped in images of military and war to find language and metaphor that is NOT violence-derived. Think “protest” or “resist”…these are violent responses to violence.

So, I’ve started a list of metaphors and words that I will begin using for political situations and for inter-personal interactions. Initially, I imagined that words and images from farming would be helpful, but it turns out that many words have been adopted from war…plow-under, etc. And, modern farming is all about the exclusion of all but one desired organism. Not helpful. So, I began to think about natural processes, and the ocean; specifically, I remembered geomorphology and surfing!

Geomorphology words that can serve as metaphors:

all of the mechanical weathering types, including root wedging, exfoliation or pressure unloading, ice wedging or frost action, and organic activity. Think about how powerful of a metaphor frost action can be: a trickle of water finds a crevice in rock, freezes in place and creates a crack; more water flows into the crack, and freezes, exploding the rock into pieces. Wow.

Also, accretion (the steady accumulation of silt and other rock sizes by deposition after being carried by water that has slowed down) and abrasion (wearing down of rocks by rubbing or bouncing them against one another, producing smaller, rounder and smoother rocks).

Surfing also provides metaphors:

dropping in, messy or blown-out, paddling-out, pulled-under, over-the-waterfall, goofy-foot

Imagine talking about a bill in Congress being blown-out (as in, it is too windy and the waves are un-rideable, and surfers should wait for calmer conditions), and that a centrist Republican, by assenting to a bad bill, is going over the waterfall (as in being sucked under and tumbled in the washing machine of wave action, because she got too close to the edge of a breaking wave).

It will take time and diligent practice, but we can change how we speak. And we will begin to think differently, more powerfully, when we do change how we speak.


Growin’ it in the ground.


Constitutional law…and legal weed

If you are looking for a little hope amidst the chaos of presidential politics, check out Engines of Liberty: the power of citizen activists to make constitutional law, by David Cole. In a series of issue profiles, Cole shows that citizens, using all of the tools at their disposal, can re-shape long-established constitutional thought. Marriage equality, gun rights, and human rights activists worked with lawyers on litigation, proposed state ballot initiatives, and swayed public opinion to change the way we as a society interpret our Constitution. Wow.

At his conclusion, Cole quotes Cornell West and Roberto Unger, as the author concludes that the way the Supreme Court and citizens interpret the Constitution can change; “Hope is more the consequence of action than its cause. As the experience of the spectator favors fatalism, so the experience of the agent produces hope.” Wow.

And, now that we’re all planted out, our license renewal is almost done. OLCC issued us our Conditional Authority, and they’ve told us we’re in review for official renewal! I’ll post photos of our mother plants and young ones soon, including some pollen production!


Growin’ it in the ground!

Oregon State University and legal weed

Friday afternoon found Katie and I in the beautiful Strand Agriculture Hall at Oregon State University, marveling at OSU’s policy of refusing to give advice or counsel or enable connections with state-licensed cannabis producers, retailers, wholesalers or processors. We listened as Sam Angima, assistant dean of outreach and engagement, explained how OSU’s legal team has ordered all OSU representatives to refrain from speaking about cannabis, teaching about cannabis, or in any way representing OSU in connection with state-legal weed.

Katie and I are shocked and dismayed by this policy. And we want to help OSU change this policy. It can be changed. We are going to recruit Senators Merkley and Wyden, State Senators, the OLCC, cannabis lawyer Amy Margolis, and maybe you, dear reader to encourage and aid in changing this policy, to reflect a changed Oregon and to help OSU fulfill its mission of educating Oregonians.

We’ll keep you posted!

And we planted our 2017 main season crop on Sunday: 150 autoflower plants and 84 main-season, photo-period sensitive plants. They are super-happy so far. Photos to come soon.

Growin’ it in the ground!



Harvest and planting progress


I’ve been harvesting the first round of New Breed Seed’s auto-flower plants the past two Fridays, and I’ll be at it again tomorrow, as the last plants finish maturing. No signs of mold, and with the exception of a few yellowing leaves, the plants remain very healthy. This fine specimen (Timberline) is an outlier, as it is still ripening and much larger than the others. It is as large as any of 2016’s main season auto Blueberry. The first Friday harvest is in cans, curing, and the next round is ready to leave the drying trays and fill cans. Once these remaining plants go into curing cans, I’ll make the harvest packages in METRC and call for the pesticide testing.

I’ve been thinking and worrying lately about all the ways that minute quantities of chemical pesticides can sneak onto the farm. Since the OLCC-mandated tests are in parts per million, and chemical pesticides are systemic by design, even bringing chicken manure compost onto the farm and growing plants in soil fortified with the compost can potentially give a failed pesticide test. The result would be destruction of the entire harvest lot of flowers. The reason? If pesticides are present in minute quantities in the compost, from either the growing of the crop that feeds the chickens or an insecticide applied to the chicken, plants can take this chemical up into plant tissues, into every cell. And then dried flowers will show traces in lab testing. Even soils on certified organic farms can contain trace quantities from previous management. We test our soils fr residual, legacy chemicals, but not everyone does or even knows to. And if you find traces, you still don’t know how much the cannabis will take in. Can you imagine if food crops experienced the same level of attention?!

Some of the mother plants of our rooted cuttings (Lucy’s Lion pictured here, with METRC plant tags visible)

In addition to harvest, I’ve been readying the greenhouses for the summer plantings of auto-flower and day-length sensitive plants. I have New Breed Blueberry and Amnesia, TGA’s Pennywise and Jesus OG, Lucy’s Lion, TrainWreck, Sugar Black Rose, Lemon Sour Berry, and a few others (MarionBerry Kush, too).

Jesus OG rooted cuttings, ready to plant

Last year, I planted everything at three feet in the row and three feet between rows. Way too tight! This year, the day-length sensitive plants will get eight-by-eight foot spacing, with the autos inter-planted in separate rows, off-set from the will-get-much-bigger plants. Sunday is the best day ahead for planting flowering plants, according to the biodynamic calendar we follow, so even though it is generally a Sabbath day us, I’ll be planting. Exciting!


Growin’ it in the ground!

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