Category Archives: Event

Upcoming appearances and announcements.

2016-04-20-04PM-20: Transcending Protest

April 20 at 4:20PM has been a long-standing day of support for cannabis legalization, and practiced for decades at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In recent years the University has gone to extreme measures to prevent this protest, closing the campus and hiring hundreds of extra police to enforce that closure. Last year this policy was quietly scrapped, and Dr. Caroline Conzelman and the CU chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy began holding a Cannabis Symposium with the blessings of University administration.
I applaud their efforts and look forward to this event.
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Talk To Your Neighbors

Fernsler Family

Wednesday evening 2015-12-16 Boulder city police knocked on my door and arrested me in my pajamas while playing with my daughter, claiming to have a bench warrant (turned out they didn’t). This stems from last Summer when someone discovered my missing, dying twenty-year old cat and reported it to animal control, who killed her and charged me with animal cruelty. She was wearing her collar with my name, address, and phone number on it.

Something I do and would appreciate is if someone finds a loose or distressed animal, contact the owner first. I go out of my way to return loose dogs or at least chase them away from busy roads, rather than turn them into the police to be ransomed back to their owners. It’s something I’ve been doing quietly every year for over a decade here, but I’m making the formal offer now: this is what I’ll do for you and what I request; talk to your neighbors.

There are many circumstances where police are needed, but I feel they are called too often over things that could be settled with a simple conversation between neighbors. Likewise I saw many in jail for letting an argument get too heated when one or both should have broke it off and gone for a long walk, and the law makes a mess of both those people’s lives. Fifty years ago my grandfather worked for the AFSC in Africa, traveling between insurgent warlords and colonial rulers carrying their messages to each other when they would not talk any other way. it was perilous work, and his first wife died on one of those trips. I have traveled the Earth too and navigated perilous circumstances, aided by the traditions of non-violent conflict resolution of my Quaker ancestors. These days I am not so adventurous, staying put and raising a family. But I would see peace, safety and prosperity in my neighborhood. So if you find yourself for whatever reason unable to speak with your neighbor, drop me a message and I’ll do what I can to help resolve it to everyone’s satisfaction. And if there is a complaint against me, I will listen respectfully and act for our mutual well-being.

My next court appearance in this matter is 8:30AM this Friday, January 15 2016 in courtroom E at the Boulder Courthouse at 6th and Canyon. It’s a status conference so shouldn’t take too long. I expect the city will continue to bully and cheat, so an extra few quiet observers would be welcome and helpful. I am experienced and knowledgeable in this arena, intending to defend myself vigorously, so you might also find this helpfully educational.

County Candidate’s Forum

I participated on Saturday October 11, 2014 in the Boulder County Candidate’s forum, organized by the League of Women Voters. As Clerk and Recorder candidate Ralph Shnelvar commented, “I’m glad to see more people in the audience than on the stage”, refering to our previous outdoor appearance when the audience wilted under the sun and a relentless parade of cautious political statements. This forum was more lively, with brief opening and closing statements and the majority of the time devoted to questions from the audience. John Fryar was the only reporter present, and his brief report is available here. Our local radio station KGNU posted the full audio.

Boulder Public Access Channel 22 streamed the show:

The rules of the forum do not allow me to post excerpts, but I have re-recorded my opening and closing statements here:

Meet the Candidates

Side Portrait

I will be appearing along with various other local candidates this Saturday, September 27 in Lafayette at a “Meet the Candidates” event  between 3:00 and 5:00 at Affinity Apartment 860 W. Baseline Road, Lafayette.  We will be on the south lawn.

I will also participate in the League of Women Voters county candidate debate on October 11 at 6500 E. Arapahoe Boulder, which will be streamed online by channel 22 and posted by KGNU.

Safety Check

For the third consecutive year, the University of Colorado Boulder will spend upwards of $100,000 to close campus on April 20 in its effort to smother anything resembling a 4/20 marijuana smokeout, which the university says has become too disruptive.

This year’s 4/20 marijuana folk holiday falls on Easter Sunday, a joyous Christian holiday welcoming Spring and rebirth, with roots in the Babylonian holiday celebrating Ishtar (“ees ter”), goddess of war, fertility and sex. It’s going to be a potent day. Campus officals, fearing reckless behavior,  are trying to prevent a celebration of what just last year was a protest. But it’s a valid fear; People, especially inexperienced people, will sometimes handle their medicine poorly.

There is a wonderful possibility hidden in this crisis, where both need and fear are satisfied. We will educate the inexperienced and guide them to responsible behavior. Rather than punishing future misbehavior, we will teach mindful indulgence.

From California surfer culture comes the concept of a “Safety Check”; speaking to a fellow on the beach you declare the present moment and space to be sacred, speak only beautiful and kind words, and smoke a joint. A similar ceremony could be created to acknowledge both the responsibility and bliss The Herb delivers.

Picture the sheriff, the chancellor, a Rastafarian and Catholic priest introducing the 420 celebration on Farrand Field, each with their own caution and blessing. There is a moment of silence, a moment of noise, and a moment of shared experience. I’d like to be there. Wouldn’t you?

Wave of Action


I’ll be at the SW corner of Broadway and Canyon from 5PM to 7PM today, Friday April 4th, 2014, acknowledging the Occupy movement’s #waveofaction.

I protested the Iraq War in 2003, as did much of the world. It was, to the best of my knowledge, the largest global protest ever. And it had no effect. The Occupy movement has been portrayed as in incoherent protest. Luckily there is much more to it than that. They are creating new solutions and living them out. If you want to know more don’t wait for mainstream media to inform you. But in this age of the Internet Apocalypse, the answer is just a few clicks away.

I lived in South Korea for part of the 1980s when there were frequent protests and riots over the military dictatorship. For eight years clouds of tear gas drifted across Seoul and other cities, until the people’s will won out and previously jailed and hunted opposition leaders rose to power. Looks like a painful way to bring about change, and I’m looking for a gentler approach. It’s easy for protesters to see police and government as oppressors, and to view the protestors as enemies of social order. We’re all in this together, and I believe through patience and respect we will find mutually acceptable and effective solutions to the many crises we face.

But the next time Dick Cheney suggests we start a war, I’m getting a court order and putting him in the time-out room.

Non-Violence and Dog Poop

Boulder City Councilwoman Mary Young wants to know how feasible it would be to require DNA samples from dogs with city-issued green tags that could be saved for later comparison to waste found on open space.

The prevailing wisdom of dog-ownership is that when you are out on a walk and your dog poops, the moral and legally correct thing to do is place it in a plastic bag, carry it home, and place it in another plastic bag to be sent to the landfill with all the other individually wrapped dog poops. This has always struck me as environmentally unsustainable, and humiliating for both the owner and dog.

From a law-enforcement perspective, making dog waste illegal is applying the methodology of punishment to force people to perform this humiliating and environmentally harmful act at the point of a gun. The fact that the City of Boulder is seeking to escalate the War Against Poop is a sure indicator that this approach has already failed.

From a genetic standpoint, DNA testing is not nearly as accurate as is popularly believed. Genetic drift, epigenetic materials, sample contamination and the small number of target genes used in DNA testing leads to a surprisingly high number of false negatives and false positives, which increase with the size of the database. I experienced this firsthand while assisting with the development of Ibis Bioscience’s PlexID system; those who ran themselves against the partial FBI database available would often get 5 to 10 positive matches, despite not being in the database. There were cases of individual’s hair sample not matching their blood, due to genetic drift. Prosecution of dog owners under this system might turn out to be expensive and inefficient.

It is also worth noting that the database would only contain samples from “green tagged” dogs. In other words, only the most responsible dogs and dog owners would be considered in the pool of poop suspects.

I would like to propose the possibility that dog-owners are in fact responsible individuals who care for their animals and environment. That it is unnecessary and ineffective to punish them into acceptable behavior, and that there are gentler ways to achieve better results. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Provide biodegradable bags at trailheads and even along the trail.
  2. Expand the number of trash cans on and near trails.
  3. Ignore it; animals have been pooping in the woods for a long time, and it seems to work out ok.
  4. Have the rangers pick up unattended poop; it’s probably less hastle and paperwork than writing tickets and hiring extra prosecutors and poop investigation services. Also, the poop gets picked up.
  5. Put a bounty on poop; say 25¢/pound. This being Boulder people could register as official poop-pickers, pick up serialized buckets, drop them off at conveniently located deposit points (then sent to compost), and receive a check at the end of each time-period. There may be some unintended consequences, but again, the poop would actually get picked up. And it would be handled in an environmentally responsible manner, unlike the escalating punishment plan.

There will be a public hearing about this on Tuesday, April 1 at 6PM. On the off-chance that this is not a well-constructed April Fool’s Day prank by the generally sober Boulder City Council, I plan to attend and present some of these ideas.