By Hannah Brandt
It’s another sweltering summer here in the Valley. We have had more days above 100 degrees in a row than I can remember. I dream of clean, cool air. When I was growing up, my family would often spend a weekend in the Bay Area for a clean air vacation. My dad literally called it that. This is a privilege many in the Central Valley do not have. I always had friends who had never been to San Francisco or anywhere outside Central California.
I myself have fewer resources to travel now and have not gotten out of the Valley for a year except once to the Sierra. It was snowing in Sequoia National Forest at the end of April, which is crazy to think of now. It seems like eons ago. While it was nice then, these extreme swings in temperature are a foreboding sign.
In the era of Trump, there are so many fires to put out, not only the ones literally raging on the physical landscape. This seems to be the strategy: Cause as many crises as possible so your opponents cannot focus on any one issue for long. Just dreaming of cool air brings up the issues of climate change, workers’ rights and healthcare. Even before Trump, the United States was not doing well on any of these, but now the situation is even more dire.
Through some sneaky tactics, Trump’s cronies in Washington and here in the Valley have hastily put together measures to undo all the hard work environmentalists have done to curb emissions, to protect the ecosystem on the land and in waterways and to prevent toxic chemicals from getting into our food and drinking water. These attacks on environmental justice are repugnant when the Valley has some of the worst conditions for air quality in the nation.
Harmful policies that I thought were unthinkable, like allowing fracking and oil drilling within national parks or cutting down two-thirds of the trees in Sequoia National Forest are now on the table. Watch how your local policy makers discuss and, more important, vote on these issues. Do not give anyone a pass for contributing to injustice.
The heat also makes me think of those who labor in these extreme temperatures in the fields to put food on all our tables. We need to do more than thank farmworkers, we must acknowledge that as consumers we are complicit in a system that has created a permanent underclass and work to change it. The starvation wages and gross mistreatment within the agricultural industry are shameful. We must stand together for living wages and humane working conditions in the fields.
A few things inside this Community Alliance to highlight: Thanks to your generous donations, we have been able to have a fuller paper this year. You may have noticed that we consistently have had 20 pages and often now have vibrant, visual covers. This costs us more, and in order keep it up we will continue to need your help.
We also need more volunteers to help with distributing the paper. Our new distribution coordinator, Peter Maiden, could really use the help. Please contact me at editor@fresnoalliance. com or Maiden at maidenfoto1@ gmail.com to become a part of the team!
We are still working on publishing a Spanish section, the larger the better. In addition to translators and content producers, we need advertising and sponsored pages for it. If you or your organization would like to be a part of making the Spanish section a reality, please contact me or our executive director, Michael D. Evans, at evansm@ usa.net.