Plant a fall garden in the New Climate Era

Dear Friends,

Some of the more undesirable features of life on Earth have already gotten worse in the New Climate Era: stronger storms, hungrier mosquitoes, more virulent ticks, a historically embarrassing president.

Our fall bed of lettuce, arugula, and radishes has been going strong since late August.

Ok, we can’t blame the ascendency of Donald Trump on climate change. But he is exacerbating the problem with such moves as deleting references to climate change from the White House website, withdrawing the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, and supporting fossil fuel expansion with the Dakota Access pipeline, the Keystone XL pipeline, and fracking.

As climate change progresses (read “worsens”), the list of undesirable creatures and features is only going to grow.

Our heirloom tomatoes look determined to produce through early November. This variety — Siciliana Rosa — is still going strong.

I have, however, noticed a few positives to climate change — most notably an extended fall garden season. As both carbon and methane emissions further concentrate in Earth’s atmosphere, growing some (or much) of one’s own food is likely to become not merely a pastime but an essential element of life. So, with an eye toward both great dining today and survival in the future, I’d like to recommend to you the virtues of a robust fall garden.

Sweet Garden Sunshine peppers promise an abundant fall harvest.





And I’d like to remind you that you’re welcome to come tour our urban farm during the event Kathy and I are hosting for Rob Sand and Deidre DeJear this Saturday, September 29, 8:00-10:00 a.m. at 735 19th Street in Des Moines. We’ll serve a light breakfast (much of it from our garden), and US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) will be here. Merkley’s on the list of Dems potentially interested in running for President in 2020.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the urban farm collage below, or check out the guided video tour on my Facebook page.

There ain’t no stopping these greens: Swiss chard, kale (two varieties), and collards.

Squmpkin! This accidental cross has proven hardy and resistant to pests and powdery mildew.

We don’t have a lot of land to work with. But the sky’s the limit (sort of), so we rigged this vertical sweet potato spider trellis.

Our second planting of green beans (in the raised bed where we grew cauliflower this spring) has done really well.

Our two hot pepper plants are nearly seven feet tall! I’m not a huge fan of scorching my palate, but when a crop does this well, you learn to love it.

We left these pods of okra to ripen to have seed for next year. Seed saving in the New Climate Era is likely to become a standard household activity.

Leeks are another crop that keep on giving — and they’re so hardy they’ll likely continue to produce into November.

We’ve still got some eggplant, though the plants are fading fast. Gotta figure out to control the flea beetles next year.

We won’t harvest these young carrots til November. Behind them, fall zucchini is a new experiment. No flowers yet, but we’re hoping.

Turnip bulbs are starting to flesh out. We planted more turnips than normal people should be allowed to plant. Enough said.

Our adopted gnome Trumpski guards the herb bed.

One hive failed, but the other just gave us over two gallons of honey!

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Politico calls Rob Sand a “young Robert Mueller”

Dear Friends,

The excitement around November 6 is above and beyond what we normally experience leading up to an off-year election. Coast to coast, young, progressive candidates are fueling that excitement — as is growing discontent over President Trump’s reign of error. Even conservative voters are pulling away from the Tweeter in Chief over his:

Rob Sand

— Escalating trade war with China,
— Support for pipelines and fracking,
— Belief that “eminent domain is a wonderful thing,” and
— Lack of a moral compass.

In Iowa, two candidates firing up voters are Rob Sand, running for State Auditor, and Deidre DeJear, running for Secretary of State. Check out the great story about Rob and Deidre in Politico this week — and the entertaining comparison of Rob to Robert Mueller.

Deidre DeJear

Better yet, come meet Rob and Deidre in person at a fundraiser Kathy and I are throwing:

Saturday, September 29, 8:00-10:00 a.m. at 735 19th Street in Des Moines

Our co-hosts are Rachel Scholten, Jon Krieg, Charles Goldman, Carla McIntire, Cheslea Lepley, and Cyndy Coppola. Kathy’s making an egg dish (from our hens and garden of course) and baked French toast. We’ll have tea and coffee. Sorry, no mimosas.

Also, US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) will join us! Jeff is a key national leader on many important battles, and we’re honored to welcome him at this event.

US Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon)

By any reasonable measure, Democrats at the state and federal level should do well in the mid-term election. The stars are so firmly aligned in Democrats’ favor that only a series of Himalayan blunders could lead to an electoral outcome where Republicans prevail.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Don’t underestimate the Democratic Party’s ability to unleash an avalanche of Himalayan blunders. Justified skepticism aside, it’s almost certain that Democrats will, on balance, gain seats up and down the ballot. The prospects for that are enhanced when each of us invests time, effort, and money in candidates and causes that inspire and empower us. Above all else — vote!

But one election cycle doesn’t mean Democrats are on the cusp of a lasting political transformation. Looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election and beyond, if the Democratic Party is to avoid permanent minority party status, Democrats have to talk truth on tough issues while rising above the tired old politics of partisan division. It’s important to call out Democrats who don’t get this.

Congressman Dave Loebsack

Case in point: Twice at the Progress Iowa Corn Feed this week, Congressman Dave Loebsack demonstrated why he should serve as the poster child for much of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party. When I approached Dave politely to ask a couple questions about the Dakota Access Pipeline and climate change, he walked away and said he wasn’t talking to the press. I immediately thought, “Hmm, that reminds me of Donald Trump.”

When Dave had his five minutes at the mic, he used nearly the entire time to say, in so many words, “Republicans bad, Democrats good.” Sorry, but voters are sick and tired of partisan blather and vacuous generalizations about “the other side.” We want genuine conversation about real issues. And we want civility and unity — something Loebsack’s Republican predecessor, Congressman Jim Leach, understood and practiced.

Make no mistake: In recent years, Republican officials at both the state and federal level have carved a wide swathe of policy carnage favoring big corporations and the fantastically wealthy over average Americans and our planet. So, why doesn’t Congressman Loebsack focus on the initiatives that distinguish Democrats from Republicans instead of throwing out trivial sound bytes that turn off voters?

Great question. Too bad the Congressman wouldn’t let me ask it.


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On this week’s Fallon Forum . . .

The Fallon Forum: September 18, 2018, 11:00 – 12:00 noon

We focus on last week’s historic lawsuit against the Dakota Access Pipeline: Puntenney, et al vs Iowa Utilities Board. Guests include landowner Keith Puntenney, Pam Mackey-Taylor with the Iowa Sierra Club, and Christine Nobiss with Indigenous Iowa.

Here’s the link to last Wednesday’s court hearing: Iowa Supreme Court Livestream

Here’s the link to the Pacifica Radio program Keith Puntenney did last week: Sprouts: Iowa Landowners Sue Dakota Access Pipeline

It’s impossible to know when the Iowa Supreme Court will issue its ruling on the case. Best estimates are that it may take six months. So it’s important to continue to take every possible opportunity to educate the public about the importance of this lawsuit! Share the above links far and wide, and stay tuned for regular updates and additional calls to action.

Thanks! – Ed Fallon

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First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March: Day 1

Dear Friends,

Regina Tsosie starts the IUB press conference with a song. (Photo by Fintan Mason)

After a stormy night, marchers carpooled to the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for a press conference to announce the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March. Though the IUB was closed, we know board members are paying attention. It’s important for them to hear that they made the wrong decision when granting the authority to use eminent domain to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. Most Iowans agree. Iowa law agrees. Soon, we’ll see whether the Iowa Supreme Court agrees.

Manape LaMere (in red) embraces Ako Abdul-Samad (in blue) after both offer a blessing to send off marchers. (Photo by Jeff Kisling)

Blessings by Ako Abdul-Samad and Manape LaMere sent marchers off along the Des Moines River. Given last night’s storms — and a forecast for continued rain and cloud cover today — I wouldn’t have guessed that our biggest challenge today would be heat and humidity.

Halfway through the March, the day warmed considerably, with the heat index hovering around 90 degrees. One young marcher felt faint and had to sit in the shade before being rescued by one of our support vehicles. The conditions hit several older marchers hard, too, requiring extra breaks in the shade.

A welcome respite came at Sue and Tom Broadbooks home in Ankeny, where the family invited us in to cool off and enjoy home-made cookies. This was the first exceptional act of kindness and hospitality in a week that would see many gestures of goodwill toward us.

Our campsite at the Griffieon farm north of Ankeny. (Photo by Jeff Kisling)

Marchers made it through a difficult 13.2-mile day to enjoy a wonderful evening of food and conversation at the Griffieon farm. Half the marchers accepted the family’s generous offer to sleep in their machine shed. The rest of us braved a second night of severe weather in our tents.

Four-mile creek, near the Griffieon farm, looked more like a river today. (Photo by Jeff Kisling)

I’m a veteran tent-dweller, yet have never seen my tent pummeled so mercilessly by the driving rain that hit us in the middle of the night. It was as if buckets of water were being hurled against the sides of the tent. I worried that the nearby ditch between our tents and the road would fill with water and wash over the field where we were camped. That didn’t happen, but if our first night’s rainfall had been as bad as some storms that Iowa has seen in recent years, that field could have indeed been swamped. We were lucky — and reminded that, in the New Climate Era, the most marginalized populations are often the most at risk.

Ed Fallon

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DNC says “no” to Big Oil, then backtracks

Dear Friends,

A trait I share with other activists is my propensity to take on too much. This trait is amplified badly when daily life includes marching 10-15 miles.

During the eight-day First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March, the daily blog I’d planned to write fell casualty to other priorities — marching, fundraising, staying dry, and a slew of other survival-mode work. So belatedly, expect eight blogs from the March in your inbox over the next two weeks.

About fundraising . . . we still need your help to close out the books on this powerful action. Click here to donate.

Click here to see some of the excellent media coverage the March received, with a couple national stories still in the works. (Photo at right from a September 8 article in the Fort Dodge Messenger.)

Finally, help us pack the Iowa Supreme Court chamber tomorrow, Wednesday, September 12, from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. Landowners and the Iowa Sierra Club finally have their day in court, with oral arguments in a lawsuit against the Iowa Utilities Board for allowing Energy Transfer Partners to use eminent domain to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. If you can’t attend, watch our livestream here.

In other news, like many observers, I was impressed in June when the executive council of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voted unanimously to no longer accept donations from fossil-fuel companies. For a couple sweet months, I thought, “Hmm. Maybe the Democratic Party has finally found a path away from being the other party of Corporate America.”

Well, it took only two months for the DNC to bring me back to Earth. On August 14, the DNC’s executive council voted — again, almost unanimously — to rescind its ban on accepting contributions from oil, coal, and gas companies. If Democrats could have come up with a more effective strategy to alienate voters, I’m not sure what it could have been.

After the vote, author Naomi Klein tweeted, “Honestly, these people {the DNC} are bound and determined to deflate and demobilize their base — and then blame the Russians when they lose.”

To be clear, some Democratic leaders have stood strong against fossil-fuel money. Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Kamala Harris (CA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) all swore off donations from oil, coal, and gas interests.

Climate Hawks Vote‘s R.L. Miller played a key role in passing the resolution banning fossil-fuel money. “We never tried to ban contributions from individual workers,” Miller told me. “Our intent was to ban corporate money from the fossil-fuel industry. Christine Pelosi {Nancy Pelosi’s daughter} has been trying to get the DNC to not take PAC money at all — and the DNC didn’t during the Obama years.”

The push to rescind the anti-fossil-fuel resolution was pushed quietly by Labor and came as a surprise to Miller and others. A mere four hours before the DNC was scheduled to meet on August 14, DNC Chair Tom Perez sprung the proposal on the executive council.

Maybe there’s yet some good that can come out of this travesty. Despite polls showing Democrats are poised to win seats at both the federal and state levels this fall, for lots of reasons, Democrats are likely to remain America’s minority party. One of those reasons is the painfully deep division between Labor and Environment. We certainly saw this in Iowa with the Dakota Access Pipeline — although more recently, Labor and Bold Iowa collaborated in opposing legislation supported by Energy Transfer Partners that criminalized peaceful, non-violent protest. More of that, please.

I asked Miller about the Labor-Enviro divide. “There’s talk of a Green New Deal, with tremendous opportunities for growth in a lot of emerging industries,” she said. “Right now, very few jobs in wind and solar are union jobs. That should change. If a company is big enough to be publicly traded, it’s big enough to be unionized. Yes, I’m looking at you, Elon Musk.”

Environmentalists need to stand with Labor and demand union jobs in the renewable energy industry. For its part, Labor needs to stand with farmers, landowners, environmentalists, and Indigenous communities against further expansion of fossil-fuel infrastructure. If we’re successful, we could the see the cornerstone of a new foundation of a politicalliy unbeatable coalition. Let’s get on it.

Ed Fallon


Listen to the Fallon Forum live Mondays, 11:00-12:00 noon CT on La Reina KDLF 96.5 FM and 1260 AM (central Iowa). Add your voice to the conversation by calling (515) 528-8122.

On this week’s Fallon Forum, Charles Goldman joins us to discuss:
(01:13) First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March a success
(13:42) Feckless DNC votes to accept fossil-fuel money
(25:47) Brett Kavanaugh’s past coming back to bite him
(49:18) Can the NFL get over its anthem problem?

– Listen on other local affiliates:
– KHOI 89.1 FM (Ames, IA)
– KICI.LP 105.3 FM (Iowa City, IA)
– WHIV 102.3 FM (New Orleans, LA)
– KPIP-LP, 94.7 FM (Fayette, MO)

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