Iowa’s Suffering Senator

Dear Friends,

I’ve had it with Iowa’s welfare queens. Wells Fargo. Rockwell Collins. Pioneer Dupont. Chuck Grassley.

Senator Charles Grassley

Yes, Grassley. The Senator announced this week that he’ll apply for federal farm bailout money. Despite being worth $3.3 million. Despite working full-time as a US Senator since 1981. Despite his criticism of government assistance for the poor.

In an October 4 Des Moines Register story, Grassley said, “I would brag to you, actually, that this experience of mine — not being an absentee landlord but suffering what farmers suffer and being joyful when they are joyful — is a good experience for a senator from an agricultural state to have.”

I have no doubt that actual farmers — those who work the land day in and day out — suffer plenty, especially given Trump’s trade tariffs and the extreme weather of the New Climate Era. I’m sure there are plenty of ways a US senator suffers, too. But I’m also certain that — given such a powerful position that comes with incomparable prestige and privilege — the joys far outweigh the suffering.

So, just as Senator Grassley earned a reality check when he announced last December that the poor “are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies,” it’s time for another — drum roll please — Grassley reality check!

Once and for all, Senator, please put to rest the myth that you’re a farmer. You might have been a farmer many decades ago, but you’re now a career politician. You don’t tout that fact because voters don’t like career politicians. But if the truth doesn’t always set you free, it’s at least refreshing. So I’d like to suggest this slogan for your 2022 re-election campaign: “Vote Grassley, Iowa’s Leading Career Politician.”

No doubt, there are plenty of farmers hurting due to the tariffs, farmers who could use a shot in the arm. Grassley’s not one of them. His justification for taking bailout money as “equal treatment for everybody” rings as hollow as an empty grain bin. Everyone’s not equal, Senator. To pretend that you, as a US Senator worth $3.3 million, share much in common with the average Iowa farmer is creative accounting at best.

Here’s the box of garden produce we brought to Iowa’s suffering Senator.

Ironically, as more consumers localize their food sources, potential beneficiaries of Trump’s tariffs are small farmers raising so-called “non-traditional” crops. (I use quotation marks because, face it, heirloom fruits and vegetables are a heckuva lot more traditional than GMO corn and beans.) That includes farmers like . . . me!

The official definition of a farm is “any place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the year.” Yeah, the Birds and Bees Urban Farm that Kathy Byrnes and I operate in Sherman Hill is officially a farm. I would wager a hefty sum of produce that Kathy and I do a lot more hands-on farm work than Senator Grassley has done in a long, long time.

Grassley’s “equal treatment for everybody” got me thinking, “Where’s our bailout?” So I called the USDA Farm Service Agency to enquire. I learned, alas, that the bailout only applies to farmers raising corn, soybeans, hogs, dairy, almonds, and cherries — some of the same crops that already receive hefty taxpayer subsidies.

I’m not opposed to some system of price support for agriculture. Food production is too unreliable — and too important — to not provide a back-up plan to assure farmers don’t lose everything when there’s a bad year, or two, or three. But the only explanation for farm subsidies targeted to just a handful of commodity crops is the political and monetary clout of Big Ag. No Iowa farmer ever got crazy rich growing garlic — and no garlic farmer is rich enough to sway federal farm policy.

It’s time to revisit government support for agriculture. If we must have subsidies, let’s target them to farmers who actually need them, and not merely to those raising crops primarily destined for export. And to be clear, Birds and Bees Urban Farm will never ask for nor accept government handouts. There is strength in diversity, and with over three dozen products, we always have plenty of products that do well even as some fail. We don’t want or need the government’s help.

I want to encourage Senator Grassley to boldly go where few big farmers have gone before and say “No!” to taxpayer handouts. Taking him at his word — that as a farmer, he has suffered — Kathy and I today brought Senator Grassley some of the bounty of our harvest. Here’s the livestream from that effort, which one could say was marginally successful. The Senator’s staff was, as always, gracious and accommodating, and agreed to forward our request for a meeting to discuss farming and climate change to the Senator.

I’ll keep you posted as to whether that meeting transpires.

Ed

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!

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.

Ed

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

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

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)

An amazing group of people

Dear Friends,

As greedy fossil-fuel tycoons escalate their abuse of eminent domain to steal our land, foul our water, and destroy our planet, we must push back with all the strength and commitment we can muster. Standing Rock became a visual manifestation of our commitment to not back down, and we who were empowered through Standing Rock continue to fight for our future.

In the face of such an enormous crisis as climate change, we must think big and act big. One huge opportunity to make a difference is the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March. On Saturday, September 1 following a 9:00 a.m. press conference at the Iowa Utilities Board building at 1375 E. Court Ave in Des Moines, marchers will set out from Birdland Park at 10:00 a.m., tracking the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline for nearly 100 miles. The March finishes in Fort Dodge on Saturday, September 8 in conjunction with the international Rise for Climate day of action with a Celebration of March at 1:30 p.m. at City Square Park.

The March is organized by Indigenous Iowa and Bold Iowa. It offers an important opportunity to come together and show the world that we won’t back down, that we’re not going away, that we’re in this fight until we achieve justice for all people and sustainability for our Earth.

We march in support of the nine Iowa farmers and Sierra Club who filed a lawsuit against DAPL for abusing eminent domain to build the pipeline. If we win this lawsuit, it could stop the flow of oil from north of Standing Rock all the way to central Illinois!

We also march as a living, moving example of how people can find common ground and create a sustainable future, and to recognize what happened in the past to the Indigenous peoples of this land. The March is, in part, a statement as to why it’s essential that we recognize the sovereignty of Indigenous people today.

We’ll march 10 – 15 miles a day. We’ll camp at farms and in parks. Our power source is a solar collector. We’ll use a trailer designed with environmentally-friendly commodes and solar showers. We’ll eat lots of fresh, locally-grown food from farms that are part of the new vision for agriculture. Farmers, environmentalists, and Indigenous leaders will have deep conversations on a level that, if not unprecedented, is certainly unusual — and critically important.

The people participating in this March are truly an amazing group of individuals, including:

  • Manape LaMere, one of the seven headsmen from Standing Rock;
  • David Thoreson, the first American to sail both directions through the northwest passage while documenting climate change’s impact on the Arctic;
  • Donnielle Wanatee, a Meskwaki woman who stood up against the Dakota Access Pipeline over four years ago — before most people had even heard of the pipeline;
  • Fred Kirschenmann, an organic farmer known internationally for his work on sustainable farm policy;
  • Christine Nobiss, a Plains Cree-Salteaux woman who has earned national recognition as the founder of Indigenous Iowa, and who also works with Seeding Sovereignty;
  • Debbie Griffin, an urban minister whose church in downtown Des Moines is focused on social justice and environmental stewardship.

That’s the short list. The Indigenous, farm, and environmental leaders who’ve come together to make this powerful statement have much to offer.

If you can join the March for a day, please do. Come to our kick-off on September 1, our rally at the end of the March on September 8, and for dinner and conversation in our camp every evening at 5:30 p.m.

Better yet, if you’re able and willing to march, grab a good pair of walking shoes and come march with us.

If you can’t be with us in the flesh, please support us with a donation. A grassroots effort like this needs all the financial help it can get. And yes: spread the word! Like Standing Rock and the many endeavors that have sprung from it, this march has the potential to ignite a prairie fire, one that spreads a message of strength and healing for ourselves and our planet.

— Ed Fallon

Why march?

Dear Friends,

Truly, it is not possible to overstate the importance of the landowner/Sierra Club lawsuit! Oral arguments will be heard by the Iowa Supreme Court on September 12 at 9:00 a.m. If the plaintiffs win, not only could we stop the oil from flowing through Iowa but we could change the conversation on whether the rule of law has fallen victim to the fossil-fuel giants’ use of eminent domain to expand their private infrastructure.

It’s also not possible to overstate the importance of the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March in raising awareness about the lawsuit. Long marches that demand sacrifice and commitment from the participants galvanize public interest in a way that press releases and forums sometimes can’t.

Shari Hrdina tracing the logo onto our solar shower / ecocommode trailer.

Thirty-five people have committed to joining the March each day. We have capacity for another fifteen. An action such as this is not something everyone can do — and many of you are already doing important work to address climate change and related issues. But if you’re at all able, this March is a solid opportunity to make a difference in the life-and-death struggle to secure a viable future for all.

So, here are the top 10 reasons why you should join the March, if not for the entire week, then for a day or more:

1. As Bill McKibben said regarding climate action, “Very few people on earth ever get to say: ‘I am doing, right now, the most important thing I could possibly be doing.’ If you’ll join this fight that’s what you’ll get to say.”

2. Because of the excellent partnership between Bold Iowa and Indigenous Iowa, many Native leaders have agreed to participate in the March. These leaders bring deep wisdom to the conversation about land, water and climate. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to meet and learn from them on the March.

3. All the folks who’ve signed up to march are truly remarkable individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. Visit Bold Iowa’s Marcher Profile page to learn a bit about them — then come meet them in real life on the March.

4. Walking is great therapy. In these troubled and troubling times, the simple, primal activity of walking can be invigorating and healing.

5. Camping is a blast — and even more fun when you’re doing it with a cool group of people committed to working together for a better world. That said, bring comfortable gear and a set of ear plugs.

Lyssa Wade with Veggie Thumper will be doing the cooking on the March.

6. The food will be awesome. Lyssa Wade’s Veggie Thumper bus is our mobile kitchen. If you haven’t thumped Lyssa’s yummables, you’ll be in for a treat. A lot of the produce will come from the Meskwaki Settlement’s Red Earth Farm and other local farmers.

7. Each evening after dinner, we’ll host an informal conversation facilitated by a Native leader and an Iowa farmer. Besides raising awareness about the lawsuit, the March can be a catalyst for discovering common ground between farmers, Indigenous people, and environmentalists. These forums are a good opportunity to do that.

8. Beyond the importance of influencing the public dialogue on climate, water, and land, this March is an opportunity for spiritual growth. Each day will begin with a prayer and blessing, sometimes led by Native drummers, sometimes by others who bring their spiritual perspective to bear on the important work we are called to embrace.

9. After the day’s work is accomplished, there will be music. Well, I’m bringing my guitar, at least. I know of one other marcher bringing an instrument, and I feel fairly confident there’ll be other instruments and musicians who want to round out the day with an informal “jam.”

10. Beyond the many, many people who’ve helped pull this March together, our core organizing team of Christine Nobiss, Shari Hrdina, Sarah Spain, and I have worked our tails off to make this a powerful and successful experience. You really don’t want all that well-harnessed energy to be squandered without being part of it, do you?

We’re just over a week from the start of the March. It’s not too late to sign up. Read on for more detail about things you need to know. We hope you’ll participate!

APPLICATION
If you’re marching and haven’t sent in an application, please take five minutes to do so. We’ve made it simple and straight forward. Our cooks need to know your food preferences, and there’s lots of other important info in there. Click here to fill it out.

CAMPSITES
Aug 31 – Birdland Park, 2100 Saylor Rd, Des Moines
Sept 1 – Griffieon Farm, 11655 NE 6th St, Ankeny
Sept 2 – Memorial Park, 114 S. Main Ave, Huxley
Sept 3 – City Church of Ames-Des Moines, 2400 Oakwood Rd, Ames
Sept 4 – Boone County Fairgrounds, 1601 Industrial Park Rd, Boone
Sept 5 – Pilot Mound Community Center
Sept 6 – Oak Park Golf and Rec Center, 105 Oak Park Rd, Dayton
Sept 7 – Maria and Don Nelson’s acreage, 2271 290th Street, Fort Dodge

FUNDRAISING
We’ve received several grants, support from five non-profit organizations, and a number of individual donations. But we need more folks to step forward to finish pulling together the financial pieces necessary for a successful event.

Take a little time to reach out to friends, family, and others. Ask them to sponsor a marcher for $20 a day — or $160 for the entire March. Check out the Marcher Profile page for details.

GEAR
Marchers, you’ll need to cram all your gear into two large bags, plus a day pack or satchel. For guidance on what you’ll need and how to pack, check out our packing list and video.

All marchers will have a designated spot for their bags on the gear truck. If there’s a piece of equipment you don’t own, can’t afford, and would like to borrow (e.g., tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, etc.), let us know ASAP and we’ll try to track something down for you.

MARCHER PROFILE
These are an essential part of how we’ve been able to encourage people to join the March and support it financially. So, if you haven’t yet, send us:

  • Your photo,
  • A few sentences about why you’re marching,
  • A little bit about who you are and where you’re from, and
  • How people can follow your experience on the March.

MEDIA OUTREACH
We’re eager to let folks along the route know that we’re good people and have our collective best interest in mind. Please share the short promotional video, produced by Fintan Mason.

Also, view the film Ralph King put together, called “Crossing the Divide,” from last year’s Climate Justice Unity March, to see what we’re eager to avoid this year.

Take 5 seconds to click “going” on the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March Facebook Event.

SEPTEMBER 1: START OF THE MARCH
We’re arranging car pools to bring marchers from our campsite at Water Works Park to the Iowa Utilities Board, 1375 E. Court Ave, Des Moines, for a press conference at 9:00 a.m. After that, we’ll car pool to Birdland Marina where we’ll begin the March following the Des Moines River for the first couple miles of a 13.2-mile day. Click here for Facebook event.

SEPTEMBER 8: RALLY IN FORT DODGE
At the end of our final day’s march, we’ll hold a celebratory rally at City Square Park, 424 Central Ave in downtown Fort Dodge from 1:30 – 4:00 p.m. Native drummers will welcome marchers as we arrive. Food will be available from the Veggie Thumper bus, and a popular local band, Brutal Republic, will perform. We’ll have a few speeches from marchers, too. This connects with the International “Rise for Climate” mobilization, and we hope folks from across the state will join us in Fort Dodge. Click here for Facebook event.

VEHICLES
Consistent with our commitment to minimizing our carbon footprint, we’re trying to keep the number of vehicles on the March to a minimum.

Here’s our fleet:

  • A 26’ gear truck
  • Our Commode/Shower trailer (which is 3,000+ pounds and comes with a 2” ball hitch)
  • The pickup truck needed to haul the Commode/Shower trailer
  • A 2000 Ford Ranger — our Logistics-Mobile — which will pull our solar collector
  • The Veggie Thumper food bus
  • A sag wagon (perhaps a full-size sedan) to pick up marchers when needed
  • A back-up sag wagon

Most of our vehicle needs are coming together. But we still need:

  1. The sag wagon,
  2. A full-size pickup truck to haul the commode/shower trailer, and
  3. A driver for that pickup truck.

If you’re planning to bring a vehicle to Des Moines at the start of the March, let us know ASAP if you’ll need a place to park it. And if you do, let us know what type of vehicle you have so we can figure out how large a parking spot will be needed.

If you need a place to park in Des Moines, if you have a vehicle that would serve as our sag wagon or trailer hauler, or if you’d be willing to help with driving, get back to Sarah Spain ASAP at sarah@climatemarch.org or (530) 289-6683.

Thanks from Christine, Ed, Sarah and Shari — the Bold Iowa/Indigenous Iowa March Team!

Unity Through Seed Saving

Dear Friends,

Twenty years ago, I began saving seeds from my garden. I now save about fifty heirloom varieties annually. It’s encouraging to see more people understanding the importance of seed preservation, because as our Earth plunges deeper into the New Climate Era, saving heirloom seeds is likely to play a key role in humanity’s ability to adapt and survive.

Bear Paw Beans, gifted to Ed from Donnielle Wanatee

One of my most treasured seeds is the Scarlet Runner Bean, with its purple-and-black beans and beautiful red flowers. I’ve meticulously kept a line of Scarlet Runners going for nearly a decade, and I’m careful to never plant more than half of what I’ve saved.

Well, almost never. Last year’s Scarlet Runner crop did poorly. I was only able to save a couple dozen seeds. For reasons I’ll never understand, this spring I abandoned caution and planted all of my remaining Scarlet Runner seeds.

To my dismay, none of those bean seeds germinated. A line of seed I’d saved for nearly ten years was gone.

Donnielle Wanatee and her daughter Lovena in front of their family’s wiki-up at the Meskwaki Powwow.

In June, Donnielle Wanatee and her daughter Lovena visited the urban farm at our home in Des Moines. While Lovena helped Kathy pull weeds, Donnielle told me about “Braiding the Sacred,” a gathering she’d just returned from in upstate New York. (Braiding the Sacred is a growing network of Indigenous corn keepers whose work centers on ancestral corn varieties and the sacred responsibility to care for them.)

One of the leaders of Braiding the Sacred, Angela Ferguson, heard of a man who’d carefully maintained 1,100 different Native seed varieties. The man unexpectedly gifted the entire collection to Angela! In that collection, Angela found seven corn seeds from the Meskwaki and Sauk-and-Fox. She gave some of each of those to Donnielle.

Bear Paw Bean flowering

In addition to those corn seeds, someone at the gathering gifted Donnielle a few bean seeds, a variety called “Bear Paw.” As Donnielle and I sat on my porch, she showed me each of the Meskwaki corn seeds given to her by Angela.

Lastly, she showed me the Bear Paw Bean seeds. My jaw dropped! It was the exact same seed as my Scarlet Runner Bean!

Donnielle gave me sixteen of those seeds. The very next day, Kathy and I planted eight of them. The plants are now over ten feet tall and thriving like none I’ve ever planted before.

Cherokee White Eagle Corn, gifted to Ed by Donna Vaughn in 2011

Maybe this seems like a trivial matter, but to me the experience was an example of how mysteriously yet graciously spiritual forces within our world come into play.

How odd for me to plant every last one of my Scarlet Runner seeds.

How odd that not even one of those seeds germinated.

How odd that, barely a month later, a Native friend shows up at my door with the exact same seed.

Is it odd, or simply the way the Universe works? I don’t know. But for me, saving heirloom seeds is both logically and intuitively one of the most important tasks we can do. It’s one way we stand up to the forces that continue to push us into a climate future that is dangerous and foreboding, into a reality that negates all that is alive and beautiful.

In addition to all the other important work Donnielle does, I’m honored to march with her on the First Nation – Farmer Climate Unity March.  “I’d like Iowans to start having the conversation that no one should have to leave this state,” Donnielle told me. “We should all be able to live together. This is what the March has the potential to bring about. We have to start working together because a rising tide raises all ships, and that’s what I’m trying to do with my Iowa.”

Ed Fallon