A Bold, Surprising Vote in Butte County

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Butte County Frack-Free Campaign Group - photo by Karen Laslo
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by Leslie Layton

A majority on the Butte County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to draft an ordinance that would ban fracking, a step that could place this county at the vanguard of a grass-roots movement to halt the practice.

In a surprisingly unscripted move, the supervisors voted 4-1 to consider a comprehensive fracking ban after county staffers research how best this can be done. The vote was applauded by dozens of anti-fracking activists, many of whom had spoken in favor of the more moderate measure that was on the agenda — a recommendation the county amend its zoning code to ensure local oversight of fracking projects. read more

California to Experiment with Fracking Regulation

Dave Garcia, who has led the fight against fracking in Butte County, poses near a gas-well pump in the nearby Sutter Buttes, where many wells have undergone hydraulic fracturing.
Dave Garcia, who has led the fight against fracking in Butte County, poses near a gas-well pump in the nearby Sutter Buttes, where many wells have undergone hydraulic fracturing.

by Leslie Layton

CHICO –On a recent summer morning, Dave Garcia, the political chair of the Sierra Club’s Northern California Yahi chapter, occasionally interrupted a tour of gas wells in the Sutter Buttes to point out signs of wildlife: a scampering cottontail rabbit, a vigilant red-tailed hawk or whizzing western kingbirds.

Garcia had brought a pair of journalists here to witness fracking in the Northern Sacramento Valley, something that most Northern Californians probably have no idea is underway in this area. The well sites appear almost deserted—there are no gas flares, no trucks moving huge tanks of water, no towering pump jacks. In fact, rarely were people even seen at these electronically monitored stations. read more

Continuation Schools Struggle to Beat the Odds

Diana Chavez

photo by Leslie Layton

Diana Chavez: “Fair View changed my life around in a lot of ways. I felt people cared about me.”

by Leslie Layton

During her freshman year at Chico High, Diana Chavez ditched all but about 20 days. “We’d go to the mall, do anything to fill up the day,” she said of herself and a friend. “Then we’d go back to school to get picked up.”

Chavez enrolled at Fair View continuation high school in fall 2009 after failing her freshman year classes. There, she was able to make up lost credits and get on track with emotional and academic support from school staff. Chavez will graduate from Fair View May 23 with plans to attend Butte College next fall. read more

Chico-based Book Press Publishes Cuban Writers

Disconnect Book Cover

by Leslie Layton

In her spare time, whenever that is, Professor Sara Cooper has taken on the modest task of building a footbridge between two nations with icy relations. Cuba is far closer to the U.S. mainland than any of the Hawaiian Islands, but to most Americans, far more a mystery.

The footbridge is a non-profit book press, Cubanabooks, which Cooper launched in May 2010. Cubanabooks today released its second book in this country, a bilingual edition of “Disconnect” — in Spanish “Desencuentro” — by Cuba’s popular Nancy Alonso. Without Cubanabooks, Alonso’s short-story compilation probably wouldn’t have made it across the Florida Straits. read more

Water Dome Poetry of Place

For Jazzi

snazzy peaches,
I am so far and with you

from those shards of sunlight on icy fields
on cycling mornings that must be getting colder,
from here it is hard to believe that they exist:
landscapes away, I can try to imagine
the smokiness in the air and the stars after six,
the persimmons in the market and the dry mouths they leave behind,
the seasoned almonds on the kitchen tables: orange cinnamon, coffee, honey and lemon,

or highway and
barbed wire and
flattened yellow grasses under slices of metal

but I lost your body here:
slow walk straight back deep breaths and I thought I had healed
on a misty evening, around cobblestones sinking in dirty water
we were hand-in-hand, coming from the Turkish bath
an old woman in an apron leaned against her doorway and told me I was beautiful — read more

see slideshow Occupy Chico State

slideshow by Erik Aguilar