Friends and family,
I am writing to you from Seven Pines today to share what I can about an action I have been engaged in. I have been walking along the Los Angeles aqueduct for the last month with a community of people with the intention of bearing witness to our relationship with water and seeking deeper knowledge of the land and our use of water. Walking Water is a political prayer and collective meditation engaging teachers, tribal members, global activists and local community leaders in pilgrimage. I am committed to fundraising for my participation this year and next. It required about $500 a week to cover food, logistical support, organizing and camping and use permits this year.
I am writing to you specifically because I believe this work is important and I believe you, like most of us, resonate with the issue of water use and our relationship with this primary source. Walking Water is a 3 year journey from the headwaters of Mono Lake near Lee Vining to Los Angeles. This year we walked over 210 miles from Owens Lake to the Cascades at Sylmar. About 50 of us arrived there a week ago today where we held a ceremony and a brief reception. We were met by family members and friends, my parents traveled from Long Beach and met us. I would invite you to check out the website http://walking-water.org/ which details some of our journey and provides content collected and shared by pilgrims. Next year at this time we will move together into Los Angeles.
I would like to highlight one part of this work that has come forward to me very clearly in the past weeks: The importance of hearing the story of the native peoples in our lands. Specifically my intention is to stand in strong ally-ship with all Indian people and especially where I can with the Paiute Shoshone of Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine and Bishop and also the Timbesha of southern Inyo. Many of you are familiar with the story of farmers and ranchers in the Owens Valley being bamboozled out of their land and water so that the Great City could grow. Less familiar is the story of people herded like wild cattle, the lynching, kidnapping, theft and the forced march of hundreds into exile after exile. As I walked I asked what there is for me to learn from this history? What could I learn from these ancient people that has been hidden by this shameful past? I am still with these questions.
I believe I have intended to walk this route since I was a young boy. In the Inyo Forest and Mojave Desert I have been with, in spirit, my Great Grandparents and Grandparents in the place they called home at the beginning of the 20th century. I was stirred by each day in different ways. We spent our mornings in silence with the unfolding landscape, greeting it as pedestrians have for millennia. I have been touched by the beauty of places I can’t see or which are overlooked on the drive between home and Los Angeles so often. I am surprised at the ease of camping in the desert and in community (It has taken some time to adjust to sleeping indoors). I have encountered many stories of these places, some old and etched in rock, some printed in newspapers now. I have felt time slowing, the ways in which the earth is truly resilient and the real consequences of human actions. I did not really need evidence that our relationship with water is broken but received this every day on the journey. I am convinced there are better ways to be with water and land as humans and that the truth that water is an absolute human right is at the center of those ways. This is why I am engaging you and I want to do my part to communicate this work and maybe through that expand our community. I’d like to meet you wherever you are and share what is common.
I have come to my own conclusions, slowly, over time about what the solutions are. I am certain that the development of local food production in the Owens Valley is a way to establish community and build relations with guests here. The connection between food and soil is right with all my learning and through my guts to my rooted feet. I believe that soil generation and stewardship is the way to be right with water here and everywhere. But I haven’t convinced LADWP or my own County Government of this and so I sit with uncertainty. I feel that Walking Water and pilgrimage in general is a way for community to come to its own conclusions about solutions in its own way and time. Slowly. Geologically, if necessary. And I’m convinced there is just no convincing, only observation and careful deep questioning. What is the question I can ask that may evoke some subtle shift in consciousness? What question may I ask of myself? My friend Marcela Olivera asks me, can you be like water? Transparent and always in motion?
I will write and share more with you in the coming weeks and months. This process has gifted me no shortage of material. Please respond with any questions you have for me now and let me know if you wish to be left off this communication. I am attaching a link to a fundraising site for Walking Water. My goal is to raise $3000 to cover a small portion of my share in this year’s walk (I have covered all but $400) and to cover myself and to sponsor another walker scholarship for next year. If you are moved to give $50 or any token amount I will receive it in gratitude and use to engage others on this issue. If not it’s ok and my point is truly to just check in with you on this and grow the field of awareness.
Click here to support Ben's work with Walking Water by Benjamin Holgate
Lane Closure Report for the week of 10/24/16 – 10/28/16
Inyo, Mono & Eastern Kern Counties – The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) would like to alert the traveling public to be careful of workers on the Highway, to Slow for the Cone Zone and Move Over where possible.
The scheduled lane closures for the week of October 24th through October 28th, 2016 are as follows:
Design-a-Bookmark Contest Winners Announcment
We had over 40 entries this time (!!!) and two ties, so a total of eight new bookmark designs will be printed up by Pete at Community Printing for the library. If you want to see all the submissions, our fabulous IS department put them online for us: http://www.inyocounty.us/library/Library_Events.asp
When: Fri., Oct. 28 (3:30pm)
Where: Bishop Library
DIGGIN’ DAHLIAS WORKSHOP- Have Dahlias???
Do you want to learn how to lift, divide and protect them from freezing?? Then join us for an informative workshop on winterizing dahlias. Our local dahlia expert and University of California Cooperative Extension Inyo and Mono Counties Master Gardener Lori Plakos will teach you the steps to store your dahlia tubers for the winter. This is a hands on workshop!! Participants will actually dig and divide dahlia tubers. Please bring a hand shovel and gloves. If you have a sharp garden knife, you may bring one with you also. The workshop will be held on Sunday, November 6, 2016 from 2:00 to 4:00PM at the Bishop Community Garden located behind Bishop City Park. We will meet at Jack’s Garden in memory of Jack Osborn. This is a free public workshop and no reservations are required. If you have further questions, please contact the UCCE Office at 760-873-3179.
When: Sun., Nov. 6, 2016 (2:00pm to 4:00pm)
Where: Bishop Community Garden behind Bishop City Park.
This event is FREE!
ESMF Harvest Hoedown holds Big Surprise
Eastern Sierra Music Festival (ESMF) is planning to announce the headliners for its summer concerts during its upcoming Harvest Hoedown fundraiser, Saturday, Nov. 12th at Hidden Creeks Ranch in Bishop.
Festival organizers were able to finish negotiations with the headliners for the July 21-22 concerts earlier than expected, allowing for the announcement to come six weeks earlier than last year.
The Harvest Hoedown fundraiser combines good food, great fun and fabulous music by Tony Suraci, better known as “The Highway Man.” Suraci is a gifted vocalist who channels the spirits and voices of the original Highwaymen in a breathtaking performance. He easily emulates all four of Outlaw Country’s favorite musical icons, -- Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson.
ESMF invites you to enjoy the crisp autumn evening air amid the beauty of Hidden Creeks Ranch. Festivities include beer and wine tasting, a great meal and a fantastic Silent Auction. If you would like to donate an item for the Silent Auction, please let organizers know at email@example.com. Tickets are limited and are on sale now starting at $70 per person or $500 for a table of eight. Early bird prices are in effect through Oct. 31st. Visit www.wwmusicfest.org for details.
Tickets are also available at Cobwebs Antiques and KIBS-FM. Proceeds from the Harvest Hoedown benefit Eastern Sierra Music Festival's efforts to host a concert series each July at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop.
Proceeds from the concert series benefit ESMF’s chosen charity, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra's National Wounded Warrior Center, set to be built in Mammoth Lakes, California. Please note there is no affiliation between the National Wounded Warrior Center and the National Wounded Warrior Project. Photo: Tony Suraci, The Highwayman. Photo courtesy Dennis Andersen Photography