How Did It Get To Be Fall Already?
The days have grown short and out here in West Marin, where summer is often sabotaged by fog, the golden-crowned sparrows returned one day after the Fall Equinox on September 22nd. I had just read in the local newspaper -- Point Reyes Light -- that in these parts, the return of these large sparrows (whose crests feature a gold band surrounded by two black stripes) marks the official arrival of one of my favorite times of the year. These birds have the most delightful song. It is weak-sounding whistle with three parts. It kind of sounds like, "Oh poor me!"
Besides these birds, why do I like fall?
Because here on the California coast, it is a time when we generally get some of the warmest and sunniest days of the year. This week has been cold and foggy, but I'm hoping October will be kinder to the skin and soul. I also love the deep yellow and orange tints the sun brings to the surface of the West Marin landscapes during sunsets. The angle of the sun this time of year makes everything seem warmer, even as temperatures drop, particularly at night. The Great Horned Owls come down the canyons, and one can hear their "hoo-hoo-hoooooo" in the wee hours of the morning, as well as at dusk.
I've been told by my acupuncturist that I am classified as a "metal" person (there are 5 elements that sum people up according to "classical" acupuncture, the others being wood, fire, water and air), and that the season most closely associated with this "metal" element in people is fall. The way I look at it, since my birthday is in spring, I like the seasons of transition, both spring and fall. Here's my standard mantra: We plant our seeds in the spring, tend the garden of our lives all summer long, and then harvest our bounty in the fall.
This theme certainly seems to be holding true in 2006. Projects I launched this past spring, seem to be finally bearing fruit this fall. For example, I'm finally signing a contract for my next book this coming week, and receiving a grant to underwrite An Introduction To Energy, which is tentatively scheduled to be released in Spring 2008. The book is part of a special series developed by Phyllis Faber, founder of the Marin Agricultural Land Trust -- the first trust in the nation dedicated to preserving family farms. But Phyllis is also editor of a Natural History Guidebook series for the University of California Press. Books on water, fire and air have already been completed. I am doing the book on energy.
The oddest thing about this book is not the content -- which is much more a science book than my past books, which tended to be policy and advocacy rants -- but the fact that the bulk of funding is coming from the Chevron Corporation! Who would have thought that an oil company would fund a book by little old me? After all, I've been advocating for a nuclear and fossil fuel free energy future for over a decade now. Of course, this book is really designed to serve as a primer on a wide variety of energy issues, telling the history of energy development in California, and then addresses a series of hot button energy issues, delving into the pros and cons of Liquified Natural Gas, electric-gas hybrid cars and the hype on hydrogen, for example.
To be fair for just one moment, Chevron, as well as many other oil companies, are diversifying into other energy fuels and products. Chevron, for example, is into biofuels, has invested in wind power facilities, and is even preaching about the virtues of conservation. But we also know what their bread-and-butter is, though the writing is clearly on the wall.
Since my other prime area of expertise is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), I find this latest development in my writing career a curious challenge. How to be true to myself -- and the purpose of this book -- without upsetting (too much) the "powers that be," is now a task that lies directly in front of me.
This book has been under development since the beginning of the year, and to have it all come together this fall season makes inherent sense in terms of the cycles of nature. And it is my first book project of my own since Reaping The Wind came out in 2001. Of course, I've been the prime ghostwriter for the forthcoming book by Bruce Piasecki for Sourcebooks entitled World, Inc., but writing under one's own name carries a very different kind of personal significance, that's for sure!
Other major projects that are coming to fruition this fall is my project for Businesses for Social Responsibility (BSR). I'm handling the development of a special supplement in the New York Times, scheduled to be publihed on November 8th, about CSR. This project's origins actually date back to April 2005, when I first met Matt Hirschland of BSR at a conference sponsored by Business Ethics magazine in New York City. I've stayed in touch with Matt since then, and my persistence finally paid off. Seeds I planted last year in spring finally bore fruit.
And last, but certainly not least, my band's forthcoming CD is nearing completion, a project began well over 2 years ago. My band -- Space Debris -- has been involved with progressive causes since 1982. But we really are also a great jam party band. We played a party, for example, just last weekend in Davis, and folks had a blast. The beer was flowing and we dragged out some old chestnuts by David Bowie, Harry Belafonte, Chris Isaak, Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead.
This CD is completely recorded. We are just doing final artwork and reproduction. But here again, the theme of fall being a time to harvest the bounty comes up in my life. The damn CD is finally almost done! Whether it actually sells is really irrelevant at this point. In my wildest dreams, I will be collecting royalties next year as this CD, tentatively entitled Not Rocket Science, takes the nation by storm by virtue of its quirky pop, retro psychedelic jams, and folk, jazz and pure jam attributes.
I am also wrapping up my solar energy organizing work in the month of October, completing the fourth workshop this year I organized on behalf of the Stinson Beach Solar Committee. The final session will be on Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), a law in California that would allow Marin County to get the majority of its energy from renewable resources. If Marin County agrees to go to the CCA route, it could be a boon to solar energy. But some folks have been over-hyping the CCA opportunity. Tehrefore this workshop's theme
Tonight, I will be performing at an event at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley, helping to celebrate the birth of the Stinson Solar Times newspaper. I'm serving as the MC too. The prime attraction is Leon Vest, a band comprised of a married couple both diagnosed with life-threatneing dcancer diseases. The name of their forthcoming CD: Alive by Request.
Fall is also a time of taking stock, reviewing whwere we have been and where we are going. That certainly is the case with me, but more on all of that later...