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Camp Meeker Beat - July 2016


Camp Meeker Beat - July 2016

by Tom Austin

July already? Is it me, or does time slip by like a bullet train these days? I’ve barely begun to enjoy the summer lassitude! es, Campers, your word for the month is “lassitude”. This goes along with last year’s summer word, “torpor”. Both describe the desired summer state of mind, albeit with differing emotional connotations. Either word could currently describe your humble narrator, along with many other unkindly yet accurate terms like, oh, “soused”. Or worse. Let fly as you will; my skin is thick like a lizard. 

As such, I decree the return of the three dot lounge, a device deployed by a columnist much greater than myself, the sadly-not-immortal Herb Caen.   Given that I have no overarching theme, I resort to his device and deliver you a pastiche. I will start with the closest I have to hard news, before subsiding to the terminally tangential.

The Park and Rec Board continues to hew to its daily business, eschewing torpor and decrying lassitude. Better them than me. Rather than go gentle into that good night, the Board responded vigorously to the County Board of Supes’ imperious decree that Camp Meeker should join, without so much as a By Your Leave, a Fuel Reduction Pilot Program aimed at increasing fire safety and other laudable goals. Our Board made clear that, although the ends be laudable, the means left something to be desired, to wit: The lack of notice, public hearing, and etc. that should normally accompany such a move in a functioning democracy. This vigorous response produced results: James Williams of Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services made the journey out to Camp Meeker to explain the criteria by which Camp Meeker was chosen (lots of vegetation, densely developed, narrow streets) and to explain away the lack of community involvement in the decision as a fait accompli. Board member Gary Helfrich contested this last point, suggesting firmly that any of the potentially intrusive aspects of this program be delayed until said public hearings were held. What followed, with input from all five Board members, was a discussion of the specifics of this program:  the status of the wood chipper program (still active),  the timing of it (evaluation beginning July 1, now delayed to attempt to conduct the requested public outreach), and other items. 

Speaking of Gary Helfrich, that is one righteously smart and connected dude. Our neighbor Gary was the subject of an entire column in a recent Press Democrat, highlighting his work as Executive Director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (now coming to an end as he returns to his prior work with the County). This time, the column didn’t go into other aspects of Gary’s colorful past, such when he roadied for Aerosmith or revolutionized the Mountain Bike industry with titanium and tig welding). It is strictly as a hobby that he developed a broad and comprehensive expertise in local politics. Your other word for the month is “maven”, and yes I double-checked that this word is entirely complimentary, finding out on the side that it comes from the Yiddish.    In sum:  if you want to know who to talk to to get something done, it’s a fair bet that Gary can clue you in.

Civil War Days are here!  I know it’s more of a Duncans Mills thing, but I can’t resist. Civil War re-enactors get a bad rep (see under: “Confederates in the Attic” by Tony Horvitz) but I think that’s off base. We’ve all got our hobbies and our obsessions, and theirs just happens to involve marching around in wool uniforms in the heat of July, making visible a time in our nation’s history that continues to inform who we are as a people. I’ve brought nieces and nephews to this event, and they DIG it. Imagine the look in your nine year old niece’s when that nattily dressed fella on the Golden Palomino offers her a chance to get in the saddle. Yes, that happened. At any rate, Tony Horvitz’ book introduced us to the term “period rush”, that being the experience the re-enactors are after. You see, if they can perform in an authentic enough manner (weapons, wool, hardtack, brogans) they will feel the sensation of actually BEING in 1863. And you residents of Camp Meeker, time to fess up:  that’s why you live here. Right?   Whether it’s 1877, 1912, 1955, or 1969, living in Camp Meeker allows you to transport yourself magically back to another time. Places like Camp Meeker don’t exist in the modern world. Don’t argue; you know I’m right.