Monthly Archives: November 2007

Defend Catherine Wilkerson

Catherine Wilkerson’s trial began today in Ann Arbor. Michelle Kinnucan wrote an article for Critical Moment (Dr. Wilkerson Fights Political Repression, Issue 22) a while back laying out this case.

It was at this time that she was physically assaulted by Ann Arbor police and detained. To this day, Wilkerson still requires physical therapy for the shoulder injury she suffered at the hands of Officer Warner. Wilkerson was never handcuffed or even required to produce identification because she had committed no crime in advocating for a patient in her care. However, nearly two months after the incident and just seven days after she filed a police brutality complaint, she was charged by the Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brian Mackie’s office, at the request of the UM police, with two attempted felonies—one against Officer Warner and one against the EMS personnel.

Alexander Cockburn also wrote this article in It contains a background of the events that led to the court case but also some more recent information. I found this quote from the defense lawyer particularly interesting:

Her attorney, civil rights lawyer Buck Davis, tells me that that county judge Elizabeth Pollard Hines recently threw out two subsequent charges, claiming that Wilkerson had tried to interfere with the campus police as well as the police officer.

Buck Davis tells me that “ten or fifteen years ago this case would have been a slam dunk, on First Amendment and medical privilege arguments, with no physical contact with the cops, all in liberal Ann Arbor.” Wilkerson would have been swiftly acquitted.

“But now people are scared to death. They know the social system is falling apart. They no longer have a generous spirit. I’ve learned that the erosion of the economic and social fabric means people want to believe the cops. They’re frightened. So I’m not as arrogant about ‘slam dunk’ cases as I once was.”

The Huron Valley Greens have called for supporters to pack the courtroom:

*1. Trial Starts Monday–Pack the Courtroom*
The first day of trial is Monday, November 26th, starting at 1 PM. Jury selection is scheduled to continue on this day. The trial continues on the 27th, 28th and 30th at 8:30 AM every day. All events take place in the courtroom of 15th District Court Judge Elizabeth Pollard-Hines. The court is located at 101 E. Huron St. (corner of Main St.) in downtown Ann Arbor [directions].

The court phone number is (734) 222-3380. We’ll try to keep you apprised of scheduling changes but if you’re coming in from out-of-town then you may want to call first


Brines Farm Open House

Today, Kate, Eitan, some other people without blogs and I went to Brines Farm. Shannon Brines has a passive solar greenhouse and has been growing organic greens and other produce through the winter for the last couple years. Lately I’ve been having lots of conversations with friends about local produce and what it would mean to eat seasonally in an area when it’s really really cold for about half the year.

I was surprised to learn that you could grow produce during the coldest winter months in Michigan. It seems that the biggest obstacle to eating local (our relatively short growing season) is really (mostly) an illusion. Brines’ greenhouse was big, since he started it as a commercial venture and is selling at the Farmers’ Market in Ann Arbor. But you can do this in your backyard, and even if your plants stop growing in January or February, you can still increase your personal growing season by 3-4 months at least. It really doesn’t have to do with the temperature so much as the daylight hours.

Another thing was that there was minimal energy input–heat and electricity. During the hottest part of the summer they use some fans for circulation but that’s about it. In other words, there’s no cost beyond maintenance once it’s set up. It’s really underwhelming once you realize how simple the model is–just build a structure and drape some plastic over it. If you want to make a solar greenhouse, there’s lots of links and resources at the Brines Farm website.

More of my pictures.

Two Food Blogs

I found two blogs the other day that deal with food and food politics, The Ethicurean and Chews Wise. I’ve become interested in the relationship and contrast between different food ideologies, including organic, local, sustainable, grass-fed, etc. I don’t think that just because something is organic or even local means it’s necessarily better for the world. It’s a lot more complicated than that. I’m glad I found some sites that seem to agree with me on that. I liked this post critiquing Alice Water’s involvement in a gated community development. I also found about this documentary “King Corn,” about agriculture and related issues, through the lens of  through about two friends who decide to start farming cor.

Do you know of any good political food blogs? Post ’em here.

Michael Pollan on the Farm Bill

Michael Pollan (author of the Omnivore’s Dilemna) wrote a good op-ed in the New York Times about the Farm Bill going through the House and Senate right now.

Americans have begun to ask why the farm bill is subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils at a time when rates of diabetes and obesity among children are soaring, or why the farm bill is underwriting factory farming (with subsidized grain) when feedlot wastes are polluting the countryside and, all too often, the meat supply. For the first time, the public health community has raised its voice in support of overturning farm policies that subsidize precisely the wrong kind of calories (added fat and added sugar), helping to make Twinkies cheaper than carrots and Coca-Cola competitive with water. Also for the first time, the international development community has weighed in on the debate, arguing that subsidized American exports are hobbling cotton farmers in Nigeria and corn farmers in Mexico.

On Capitol Hill, hearings on the farm bill have been packed, and newspapers like The San Francisco Chronicle are covering the legislation as closely as The Des Moines Register, bringing an unprecedented level of attention to what has long been one of the most obscure and least sexy pieces of legislation in Congress. Sensing the winds of reform at his back, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told a reporter in July: “This is not just a farm bill. It’s a food bill, and Americans who eat want a stake in it.”