Saturday, December 8, 2012

Your Local Going Local

Photo by Joe McGarity

Watch the Video
Listen to the Podcast

This Fantom Penguin story is brought to you by Palo Cedro Printing, a locally owned green printer, Palo Cedro Printing and by Winston, the cat with his initial on his forehead, available now at Stillwater Cat Haven 365-4861.

Local musician Will Miller helped kick off the opening ceremonies for Going Local, an organization dedicated to strengthening our communities by buying local whenever possible and supporting local businesses by among other things, networking over a cup of cold-brewed coffee.

“We’re not a coffee shop here, but people can come in and serve themselves a cup and give a donation if they like and try out this new way to make coffee.”

The Fantom Penguin sat down with Christine Mitchell and discussed Going Local over just such a cup.

“This is really just our corporate headquarters.  We’re waiting until we can raise more money and we can get a new floor and have things up to code and then we would like to become a coffee shop, but right now, like I say, this is our headquarters.  We have some events here, meetings, films.”

 “We focus on community; community issues, community businesses and farmers.  We promote eating local produce.  We promote local artists, musicians, as I said local businesses.  We believe we need to keep the money here in this community as well as help the environment by not having goods transported over thousands of miles.  We also have meetings here of something called Transitions, which is a movement all over the world where people are trying to focus on their communities and do what they can do to help their own communities.”

 “We do have some events.  Last Saturday we had musicians and some people selling their arts and crafts.”

That was my next question.  Those were the businesses, the vendor tables that we saw at your opening event.  What sorts of businesses?  It looked like quite a variety.

“It was.  We had Moseley Winery.  We had the Social Yogurt Shop, people who make arts and crafts, jewelry.”

“We encourage non-profits to come and share with everyone the things that they’re doing.”

If a certain group wanted to use your place for a meeting like a book meeting or maybe an event or a meeting for women who have survived, let’s say breast cancer, can they get a hold of you?

“Yes, we would love to have them or if people want to have a special event like someone asked me about a wedding reception.  They could do that at very reasonable rates.  Now a non-profit, we would only ask them for the most part, if they had a meeting say, to take up a collection to help us out.  If they were having some sort of fundraiser then we might ask a little more but we’re very flexible.”

“Our primary message is shop local.  Keep your money in your community.  Don’t help the big corporations; help your neighbors who have businesses in your own town.  Help your environment by not buying goods that are shipped hundreds of thousands of miles.”

“If anyone would like to find out about this organization call (530) 244-4699 or (530) 917-0771.  They can also email me at”

The new Going Local facility is located at 1410 Beltline Road in the old Mary’s Restaurant Building.

Money and Vaule

Merry Christmas, Northstate!

I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between “money” and “value”.  When I first set out on this project, I needed a way to make money but I didn’t know how to go about it.  I had experience producing and editing video, but it’s real up-hill battle writing a resume to convince someone to hire you as a producer (or more likely a production assistant) and it’s probably a job that you’d have to relocate to accept.  Then a radical idea rolled through my brain.  (It’s not the first time radicals have been found there.)  I thought, people get paid for doing this kind of thing all the time.  Obviously this work has value.  Perhaps if I just begin making videos that have value, at some point in the future I will have a valuable body of work, something that I could make a living with or at the very least I would have a portfolio of work that would be more impressive to a potential employer than the cleverest resume could ever hope to be.

The next question that I faced was, “What sort of video articles would have the most value?”  And I asked myself this question in the most general terms.  “Value to whom?” was the next thing that went through my mind.  (Actually “Value to who” is what my brain said, but I’m a newspaper editor now.)  Well, to anyone I suppose; to anyone and everyone.  What kind of stories would have value to everyone?  Hmm.  What if I just talked to people who are already doing something to make their community better?  Maybe I can just tell the public what those sorts of folks are doing and how people could themselves get involved.  That way each and every video will have value to someone and taken together they would have a value to the community.  And if they have value for the community, the community will give me money.

But will people take me seriously?  I’m not a reporter.  I’m just some guy.  Well, it turns out that it’s a lot like the guy who believes he’s Napoleon.  He won’t acknowledge you unless you call him Napoleon.  He won’t respond to you unless you treat him like Napoleon.  Because he won’t accept any other version of reality, eventually everyone around him treats him that way because there is no other way to interact with him.  Okay.  Being a reporter is like that.  You just start telling people that you are one.  You talk to people and you print what they say and you hope that no one figures out that you are not really a reporter.  By the time they do, you’ll have almost a hundred stories written and you might actually start to believe in your own delusion.

I thought that businesses would just sort of buy advertising space in a sort of impersonal transaction, like buying bread at the grocery store.  They have it.  You need it.  They give it.  You pay it.  That’s that.  But that’s not what happened.  My experience has been personal.  Each and every advertiser in the Fantom Penguin is here because they appreciate the value of making a positive difference in this community.  They like the paper and they like me.  I can’t remain a shadowy phantom.  It’s emotional and it’s humbling, but it’s definitely not impersonal.  I’ve allowed myself a little personal pride at the number of advertisements in this issue and the quality of the advertisers who trade with the Fantom Penguin.  I challenge my readers to thank them for their efforts in making the Northstate a better place to live.  With them, it’s personal. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Animal Sanctuary Offers Another Chance

Photo by Joe McGarity

Watch the Video
Listen to the Podcast

Pets are sometimes an overlooked victim of the ongoing housing crisis.  When you are losing your own shelter, sometimes it’s easy to forget about your life-long friends.  But is there any hope for them?  The Fantom Penguin talked to Joyce Darrow, Volunteer Coordinator for Another Chance Animal Welfare League.

“Seven years ago six ladies got together and discussed the need ultimately for a no-kill sanctuary here in Shasta County for mainly dogs and cats to start off with.  They worked very hard.  They came up with fifty bucks to open up a checking account.  They got a 501(c)(3), which is a non-profit.  They started with a small thrift store here in Palo Cedro and went from there, obtaining foster homes to take the cats and the dogs until they could be placed in their forever homes.  Over the years, over 2100 dogs and cats have been placed in their forever homes through Another Chance.  Everything in our store is donated.  All the money goes to support our animal programs.  We now have purchased property, eight acres and we’re going to begin building a sanctuary as soon as we acquire a little more money to do that.”

What is the difference between a shelter and a sanctuary?

“In a shelter animals have a time.  They are taken in and after so many days they are euthanized sometimes.  We will never euthanize an animal unless a vet says we’ve done all we can do to take care of the animal and that it’s very, very ill.  We’ve had animals in our program for 3-4 years and they ultimately find their forever home.  They’re special and special people show up and adopt them.  And as I always say, animals adopt the people.”

Not the other way around?

“Absolutely not.”

When people come into the shop there are animals here that they can see and interact with, but these aren’t all the animals are they?

“Oh, no.  All of our dogs are in foster homes and come on Saturday for adoption or just to be seen.  Many of our cats are here, but many of them are in foster homes.  We also offer people a ‘Pet-Partner Program’.  When we have no foster homes available, especially for dogs because we are limited on those, we discuss with the people if they can keep the dog and bring the dog on Saturdays for adoption.  We take pictures.  We do a bio.  We put the dog up on Pet Finders, which is a nation-wide organization and people can basically go looking for that particular animal they think they want without having to spend a lot of money on gas driving around.”
What are the challenges to developing a sanctuary?  Do we have to change the way that people look at the animal overpopulation problem?

“Yes we do.  We need to make people understand that they need to spay or neuter their puppies and kitties by the time they’re six months old.  Cats can have 3-4 litters a year.  Dogs can have 2-3 litters a year.  Just because they’re nursing doesn’t mean they won’t get pregnant.  That’s an old wives’ tale, because they will.  We need to spay and neuter animals.  Another Chance does help with that by way of vouchers.  There are other organizations that help out.  S.A.F.E. which is Save Animals From Euthanasia, they have vouchers that help people.  The county has vouchers that help people.  Anderson P.D. has vouchers that help people.  Haven Humane has a voucher system right now that helping a lot of cats and dogs.  We need to spay and neuter these animals because we’re not going to find forever homes for all of them.  We don’t.”

It sounds like there’s a lot of different programs.  Does it depend on where you live within the county?  Is that what it’s about?  I’m a little confused.

“Okay, sometimes . . . like Haven got a grant and that was for cats to be spayed and neutered if you lived in the 01 - 02 zip code.  That was a grant specifically for people that lived in that area that had cats.  Sometimes grants are specific as to where someone lives.  Our vouchers do not specify where anyone lives.  They just have to come down, fill out a form and then get a $25 voucher to help them out.  And you can put that with other vouchers, like if you have one from the county or one from Anderson P.D.  The vets will honor them.  I always tell people call around, see who’s charging what.  See what’s convenient with you.”

“If you are having to move because you have lost your home or you didn’t pay your rent and you know the landlord’s gonna knock on the door, don’t wait ‘til that happens to call us or call other organizations to see if they can help you find a new home for your pet.  Don’t abandon your animal out on the street.  Don’t think that because somebody lives in the country, ‘Oh well, they can feed another cat or a dog’.  That isn’t fair to the animal.  It isn’t fair to your children who have grown to love that animal.  Let the organizations try to help you but don’t wait until the last minute because; no you can’t walk in here and bring us a cat or a dog.  We have cats in foster homes and we have dogs in foster homes.  All of those animals have to come through first before we can help somebody who walks in with a cat or a dog.  The best that we can offer them is a Pet Partnership and if they’re getting kicked out of their home, that’s not gonna work for them.  But don’t abandon your animal.  Take responsibility for it.”

“I think everyone should support these groups.  Another Chance, there’s lots of groups out there that are doing their best to help out with all of the animals and they all need help, whether you volunteer a few hours, whether you can donate to our thrift store.  Everything here is donated and like I say, all of the money goes to help our animals.  We’re in the process of working on building a sanctuary.  If you think that there’s something that you physically can do to help, please give us a call.  Let us know.”

“Support your local animal rescue groups.  Don’t ignore them.  Someday you may need them.”
Another Chance Animal Welfare League is located in Palo Cedro in the Holiday Market Shopping Center.  They can be reached by phone at 547-7387.

Watch the Video
Listen to the Podcast

Thanks Giving

The Thanksgiving Holiday is nearly upon us but thanksgiving should be upon us already.  Many of us – okay, all of us are struggling these days.  As the days get darker and colder it may be tempting to give in to discouragement (who me?).  It is traditional at this time of year, perhaps because of this, to begin to count and reflect upon our blessings.   The Fantom Penguin has much to be thankful for this year.  Although it remains a day by day struggle and hasn’t always hit the stands on its scheduled day, the paper continues to be published and to find new readers with each and every issue.  We are thankful for this.  We are thankful for the many individuals and family members who have supported (literally in many cases) the Fantom Penguin for the past two years as it has gone from a large unwieldy egg to a chubby grey Furbie-like chick to something that actually looks pretty good in black and white.  We are thankful for the steadfast support of Palo Cedro Printing.  Your support of this local business helps to support free and independent local publishing.  We are thankful to all or our advertisers and the local merchants who allow us to distribute our paper in their establishments.  Please choose them whenever you can this holiday season.  And of course, we are thankful for you, Fantom Penguin reader!

Last issue I allowed myself to express some opinions in this space.  I suppose that is the risk one runs when writing a column.  In a column titled Fantom Penguin Contains No Detectable Levels of Corporate Influence, I seem to have said something like “this is the paper to pick up if you don’t want to get the same old disinformation spoon-fed to you”.  This is a little bold and almost seems like I waited until the day of publication and wrote the column really fast.  I was on a bit of a roll but I see what I was trying to get at.  One of the things that seems to be on people’s minds these days is a realization that most of what we see and hear comes from a very small number of sources and that number has gotten smaller over the years.  Because of this, there is a growing distrust of mainstream media of all stripes.  It was not my intention to suggest that any of the local mainstream news outlets had done anything wrong.  Most of them do have strong ties to big corporations, but that is no secret; it’s all out in the open.  It is not the intention of this paper to set them up as the “bad guy” straw men for us “good guys” to knock over.  I certainly don’t have any qualifications for being a journalist other than living in a country that protects freedom of the press.  It would be the height of arrogance (who me?)  to suggest that this humble publication was better than any of them.  I wouldn’t want any of them or anyone at all for that matter to ever be afraid of talking to the Fantom Penguin for fear of being misrepresented.  If any representative from the local mainstream media outlets would like to tell the Fantom Penguin what it is that they do and why, I would be happy to publish that story.

In this issue you will find cats.  You will find a lot of cats. There are a lot of them out there.  They breed like crazy and they live and die difficult lives on the streets and in the country.  We all know this, but most of us think that there’s nothing that we can do about it because the problem is overwhelming.  But there are a few people who are committed to the idea that this problem can be solved, people who believe that it’s possible to put in place a system to deal with stray dogs and cats that we could describe to a small child without feeling uncomfortable.  We don’t have that now.   Thankfully, it’s on its way.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Caddy Daddy’s Hosts All-Ages Rock Show on Halloween

Photo by Joe McGarity

If you’re looking for something to do this Halloween, the place to be is Caddy Daddy’s Tattoo and Piercing Parlor on Churn Creek Road in Redding.  Even if you’re not looking for fresh ink or new places to put jewelry, come by for the all-ages Rock ‘n Roll show.  The Fantom Penguin asked Tattoo Artist and Musician, Dan Jackson about Caddy Daddy’s.

Dan Jackson:  “It’s one of the few old-school traditional tattoo shops left around.  What we mean by that is:  You come in here; it’s going to be a good time.  We do good tattoos.  We have a real kick-back rock ‘n roll atmosphere here.  It’s not like walking into a hospital or walking into an art gallery where you come in and you feel like you don’t belong.  We just do tattoos and piercing here.  You come in; it’s kinda like having a little party, hanging out with old friends.  Throw on some tunes.  Get some pain.  Good times.”

And you can pick up a copy of the Fantom Penguin while you’re here, of course, and get $5 off your next piercing.

Dan Jackson:  “Yes, we carry coupons in the Fantom Penguin now.”

And besides that, you guys also do Rock n’ Roll shows.

Dan Jackson:  “Yeah.  We have all-ages shows here on the premises and what we mean by ‘all-ages’ is there’s got to be a place for the kids to go and have a good time.  Obviously in Redding most of the music scene is in the bars.  We play in a lot of bands, so we were tired of going to shows, playing shows and not seeing a lot of our friends there, so we decided, ‘Hey, what’s it going to take to have some shows out in the parking lot, make sure they’re all-ages?’  I wouldn’t say it’s a total free-for-all atmosphere, but we let kids be kids.  Just don’t damage the property.  Don’t do anything stupid while you’re on the premises and kinda anything goes, you know?  Nobody’s gonna make you go sit in the corner and do whatever because you’re underage.  We don’t put bracelets on you and sit you on one side and let all the people that can drink play on the other side.”

Is this because your bands have fans that are kids or because your fans have kids of their own?

Dan Jackson:  “It’s kinda both, man really.  I mean, we have a lot of fans that are still in high school and we have a lot of people – shit, my age now that have kids that are starting to become teenagers and they want to bring their kids to the show and you can’t do that at the bars for obvious reasons.”

Is it a difficult balance to strike between having a place that the kids think is cool enough to go to, but that the parents think is safe enough for the kids to be at?  Has that been difficult at all?

Dan Jackson:  “We’ve had no problem with it.  We have a couple of parents usually that call before the show and they’d like to get a low-down on what we do here.  But it’s not really that hard.  I think a lot of parents would just rather know where their kids are and what they’re doing rather than just hopping in the car and taking off.  And we’re not here to really babysit anybody.  We’re not saying that but we just provide a good show and if you’d like to come down here with your kids, get involved with what your kids are interested in, we always think that’s a good idea.”

So, tell me about this show that’s coming up on Halloween.

Dan Jackson:  “Well, as far as I know we’re going to have three totally awesome bands.  We’re going to have Private Interest, which again that’s another band with some youngsters in it.  They love playing our all-ages shows.  And then we have legendary Punk Rock band Don’t Care playing.  The owner of this shop, Chris Molgaard is the front man of that band.  And then we have Dust Casket headlining the show.  That would be my band.  And it’s Halloween, so we’re going to play some good old Misfits covers for the night and just make it a good time.  They’re supposed to have candy, costumes, prizes, you know?  Halloween Show.”
Is there an admission?

Dan Jackson:  “I’m sure there will be an admission.  We usually don’t have more than like a $3.00 admission for the shows.  We try and keep it cheap enough for the kids to afford.  So if there is an admission, plan on it being $5.00 or under.  I’m sure you’re going to get in a lot cheaper if you have a costume.”

Is there anything about the local music scene in Redding that people don’t get?

Dan Jackson:  “Well, I’ll tell you what, I’ve been in the Redding scene for a long time and the frustrating thing is there’s always a lot of kick-ass musicians out here and a lot of these kids try and try and try, but it’s really hard to keep a venue going up here that everybody can go to.  You have some bars and they’ve opened up a couple of clubs off and on over the past five years, I would say, but those places don’t stay open very long.  They usually have problems with neighboring tenants or stuff like that.  So, there’s a lot of good aspiring musicians around here, but there’s just no outlet for them.  So usually they have to move on or move out and I think that’s the hardest thing for musicians around here and if more people would show their support, get off their Xbox and come down here and see a show I think we’d have a lot more.”

And what time does the show start on Halloween?  It’s actually on the 31st, right?

Dan Jackson:  “Yes it will be on Halloween.  That will be on a Wednesday evening.  We’re probably gonna shut the shop down early and the show will kick off at about 7:00.  The reason why we’re doing that, everybody’s got little ones too.  That way you can go out there and get your candy before you get here.  And what with people trick or treating before dark?  Is that the thing now?”

I don’t have kids, man!  
(Nervous Penguin Laughter)

Dan Jackson:  “Scary.”

Anything else you want to add?

Dan Jackson:  “Beyond doing all the kick-ass band stuff, having the most rocking tattoo shop, we also have an on-site photo and video production service here called DeadEye Photo and Video which also advertises through the Fantom Penguin.  Go on the Facebook.  Check ‘em out.  Give ‘em a thumbs-up, DeadEye Photo and you can also check out a lot of the local bands and video work on the YouTube.  That’s pretty much it.”

Thank you very much.

Dan Jackson:  “No sweat, man.”

Fantom Penguin Contains No Detectable Levels of Corporate Influence

You can now pick up the Fantom Penguin at Local Yokel Hydroponics, in the White Center in Anderson, just north of Wal-Mart on 273.  This local business just opened its doors in September and the Fantom Penguin would like to welcome them and encourage our readers to support local businesses like this one whenever they can.  Stop by and thank them for supporting the Fantom Penguin!

Welcome also to DeadEye Photography and Video, a new Fantom Penguin advertiser!  They specialize in custom, edgy and macabre visual services, 3D photography and videography and can be reached at 945-1784.  DeadEye is located inside of Caddy Daddy’s Tattoo and Piercing Parlor on Churn Creek in Redding, yet another loyal Fantom Penguin advertiser and the subject of this week’s article about Rock n’ Roll.  You can never have too much Rock ‘n Roll!  Caddy Daddy’s hosts all-ages rock shows throughout the year and there’s a big one coming up for Halloween featuring local acts, Private Interest, Don’t Care and Dust Casket that you won’t want to miss.  If you feel like you need more metal than that, pick up a copy of the Fantom Penguin and clip out the $5.00 off coupon for Caddy Daddy’s and get yourself a new piercing anywhere you want!  (Almost anywhere . . .  You’ll have to talk to them about that.)

I’ve been trying to get a handle on what people expect and want to see in an independent local newspaper.  I’ve been trying to tread lightly and not go “too far” because that might scare people away, but when I’m out talking to people they ask me about issues that in the past I had considered “too hot for the Penguin”.  I’ve gotten some feedback on last issue’s story about genetically modified food.  I was expecting to get a little flack for taking a side on a political issue, but far from it.  People were not only eager to see this story in the paper, but were interested in other “forbidden” topics that the “real” news usually doesn’t cover.  I’ve also noticed that many of the things we all seem to believe that we can’t talk about because it’s a “conspiracy theory” or something we’re “not supposed” to talk about are really more well known and widely accepted that we are led to believe by our televisions.  Think about where you got the idea that you can’t bring up that one topic.  Is it because people reacted badly when you did?  Or is it because someone on television told you that they would?

I also can’t help but notice that the mainstream news organizations have begun to cover many of the same stories that the Fantom Penguin has covered recently.  The wonderful ladies that run the Lunch Bunch have been in the “real” news lately as have been some stories about animal rescue and the red tape that can come along with adopting a pet from “the system”.  It makes me wonder if they are getting their cues from the Fantom Penguin or perhaps we’re just on the cutting edge of what people are talking and thinking about in the Northstate.  Either way, this is the paper to pick up if you don’t want to get the same old disinformation spoon-fed to you.  I’d like to say that we are free of corporate influence, but in the spirit of complete honesty I think I should say that the Fantom Penguin contains no detectable levels of corporate influence.
Let us know what you think!  Send us your recipes, cartoons, photographs and most importantly your thoughts for our Reader’s Column.  Send your stuff to: or mail to:

Fantom Penguin
c/o Palo Cedro Printing
9481 Deschutes Road
Palo Cedro, CA  96073

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Beat Goes on Every Sunday in Lake Redding Park

Photo by Joe McGarity

The Redding Community Drum Circle meets every Sunday evening in Lake Redding Park.  The Fantom Penguin staged a rap session with David Encore of Encore Entertainment.
What is the drum circle and what is the purpose of a drum circle?

David Encore:  “Well, a drum circle is a group of people getting together typically with hand drums or some sort of a percussion instrument, getting in a big circle, someone starts up a beat and everyone kind of just joins in.  It’s real simple.  Everybody can do it.  It’s a lot of fun.”

“The purpose of a drum circle is basically – unity, I would say, getting a connection with all the people that are involved and getting on the same beat.  There’s a spiritual quality to that, an ethereal feeling.  Once you get into what I call ‘the zone’ and you kind of forget everything that’s around you and you’re just immersed in the whole experience, it’s fantastic, very powerful.”
Are there drums available for people that don’t have their own instruments?

David Encore:  “Well, I can only speak for myself.  I bring an extra drum with me and I also play the congas and I don’t drum the whole time and people are always welcome to get on mine when I’m not playing them.  But, yeah, typically a few people do bring some extras.  But you know, one of our guys, he went down to Home Depot and bought one of these big water drums and then made a guitar strap on it and got a three-pound mallet and he’s just booming on that and that’s fantastic.  That was a great addition to the group.  So, it’s you know, creativity.  There’s no limit.”

How often does the drum circle meet and where at?

David Encore:  “It’s every Sunday at 5:00pm at Lake Redding Park.  It’s open to everyone.  The public’s welcome, kids, animals, whatever.  Bring it.  Have fun.  There’s no ceremonies or rituals or any of that kind of stuff.  That’s a sacred drum circle and that’s a different thing than what we’re doing.  We’re just here to have a good time and really enjoy each other’s company and meet new people.”

“Everyone that is interested, tell your friends.  Anybody can do it.  It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to connect with people and get out of the house, so come on down.”

Speaker to Discuss Genetically Modified Food in Redding

If there’s anything that brings people together and allows them to set aside their differences and enjoy one another’s company, it’s food -- genetically modified food.

The Fantom Penguin talked to Elizabeth Betancourt and Mark Burgon about Proposition 37.

How would you explain the situation to someone who had absolutely no knowledge of it?

Elizabeth Betancourt:  “I would start with saying that genetically modified food is food created in a laboratory that has not been adequately tested for safety.  It is labeled in fifty other countries around the world, including China and the U. S. and Canada are the only two first world countries that don’t currently have labeling laws.  So the basics of Prop. 37 is just that it’s our right to know what’s in our food.”

And Prop. 37 is on the ballot now.  You’ve completed the signature gathering process.  So, what is then the next step?

Mark Burgon:  “Voting.”

Elizabeth Betancourt:  “We’re trying to get the word out about what the proposition is about.  It’s got at least 75% support around the state.  Different polls show different numbers.  But as we’ve been asked many times, ‘Who would be against knowing what’s in your food?’  It’s not banning GMO’s.  It’s not about them being bad.  It’s just about us not wanting to be the experiment.”
So then, if this has broad support on both sides of the political spectrum . . .  Let me ask it in the form of a question:  Is that the case?  Does this have both Republicans, Democrats, Occupiers and Tea Partiers and everyone in between?

Mark Burgon:  “Yes, it does.  We had a meeting last night and I think that was one of my comments was, it’s nice to get onboard of something where it doesn’t seem like you’ve got one political party backing it.  But we’ve got people that are involved with the Tea Party that are there.  We’ve had interest from the Occupy people and you know, Liberals, Republicans.  Yeah, it seems like it’s across the board on this.  So it is a nice project to get behind.”

So, if that’s the case, where is the opposition coming from?  From someone apparently that stands to lose from this?

Mark Burgon:  “Well, apparently the manufacturers and the people that are creating the GMO’s are afraid that something’s going to happen if they are required to start putting it on the label.”
Elizabeth Betancourt:  “While the polls show some opposition, it seems like more of the opposition is people who haven’t yet decided or maybe aren’t yet educated on the issue.  The money coming from the opposition is coming, as Mark said, largely from big corporations that are creating these what we call ‘Franken-foods’ and also from companies that sell them.  The most common bio-engineered foods are corn, soy beans, wheat and cotton.  And, of course, corn, soy beans and wheat are some of the majority of the ingredients in processed foods and of course the majority of the foods that are subsidized by our government, by the Farm Bill.  So, a lot of the companies that are in opposition to this feel like they have something to lose by us knowing what’s in our food.  It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to eat those foods.  But it means that we just have the option.”

You have a guest speaker coming to town to talk about this issue.

Elizabeth Betancourt:  “We do.  Jeffery Smith is an internationally renowned speaker on genetically modified food and its health effects in humans and he’ll be coming to speak here in Redding at the Sequoia Middle School on October 19th.  We have a reception beginning at 6:00 where we’ll have music and food and community booths and then the talk will begin at 7:00.  We’ll have someone local introducing him, Jeffery will speak for about an hour and then we’ll have a great panel afterwards including the local speaker to take your questions and answers.  And then he’ll be there to sign books and sell DVD’s afterwards as well.”

The Fantom Penguin takes no position for or against any ballot proposition.  We welcome opposing views.

Watch the Video
Listen to the Podcast

Walking a Tightrope and Entering a Trance

Welcome one and all to the Fantom Penguin, a new independent newspaper serving the California Northstate!  I suppose I owe you all a big “Mea Culpa” this issue.  After vowing to take no position for or against any candidate or ballot measure, I found myself talking to some folks in support of Proposition 37 which will be on the ballot this November.  Proposition 37 seeks to require food that includes genetically modified ingredients be labeled.  While I still feel that it’s important for the Penguin not to take political sides, it’s also true that not all stories have two equal sides.  Many issues facing us today involve “big guys” versus “little guys”.  In my opinion, it is the proper role of an independent paper to present such stories in their proper context.  This seemed to me to be one of those situations. However, in fairness a quick look at seemed to be in order.  The first thing that pops up is this:  “Prop 37 is a deceptive, deeply flawed food labeling scheme that will add more government bureaucracy and taxpayer costs by billions – without providing any health or safety benefits.  And, it’s full of special interest exemptions.”

They have plenty more to say about it, if you are interested.  Personally, I’m more interested in hearing if anyone local is against this measure and why.  If you are a real, local person and want to present another side to this story, please contact me.  I would very much like to hear your side of things.  But if the opposition is big and far away, then frankly, I’m not as interested in their side of things.  It’s a tough tightrope to walk and I’m not entirely certain that I’m right in the middle nor that I should be.  The Fantom Penguin seeks always to explore ways of resolving conflict and never to needlessly stir up controversy for its own sake.  Conflict makes me a little tense.  But there is a cure for that too.

If you are feeling tense too, stop by Lake Redding Park on Sunday evening at about 5:00 or 5:30 right near the boat launch and bring your drum if you’ve got one.  The Redding Community Drum Circle meets there each week.  RCDC was created by mobile DJ David Encore of Encore Entertainment (a Fantom Penguin sponsor).  Everyone is welcome to participate.  There are no religious ceremonies or requirements, just people and rhythm.  If you don’t have a drum, stop on by anyway.  You can always improvise an instrument or play your own natural percussive instrument (that is, clap).  I showed up to play reporter and ended up playing a drum anyway.  It’s difficult to resist.  It’s a kind of group meditation that happens.  Rhythm induces a sort of trance state.  About five minutes into a really good session, as I began to slip into this state, sliding further and further away from the physical universe, I was reminded of my late brother Johnny McGarity who was a drummer in a local band.  He always wore sunglasses when he played because he said he went into a different place and often could not clearly remember his performances.  When that happened his eyes would roll back in his head.  I think he’d seen a video of the band playing that embarrassed him a little.  After that he always wore sunglasses, but for those of us who knew why, we could always tell when it was happening.  I began to wonder if my eyes were doing the same thing, but I couldn’t reach my sunglasses without missing a beat, so if I look silly in those pictures that went all over Facebook, then so be it.  As far as I can tell, it looks like I was having fun and I think you will too.  I will likely see you there.  I still don’t have a drum.  Can I borrow yours?

I hope you are all enjoying this wonderful Northstate of ours as much as I am.  Please send us your thoughts, opinions, cartoons, recipes and photographs.  We love to hear from you and don’t forget to thank the great local businesses who support the Fantom Penguin by purchasing our unbeatably priced advertising and those businesses who generously allow us a bit of their valuable counter space every other week.  Take full advantage of the money saving coupons we print in each and every issue and make sure you thank them for supporting independent local media!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gay Pride Festival Family Friendly

Watch the Video
Listen to the Podcast

Let’s assume that some of my viewers and readers have not heard of Pride Day; they have absolutely no idea what it’s about.  How would you explain it?

Pride Co-Chair:  “Well, Redding’s trying to have their fourth annual Pride.  We’re trying to show the public that we are part of the community.  We’re trying to boost global equality and cultural diversity for the LGBT community, which stands for ‘Lesbian, Gay, Transsexual, Bi-Sexual’ and there’s also ‘Questioning’, ‘Allies’ . . .  It’s a huge long title, but we’re trying to be part of the community and create an awareness for families and friends and others.”

I think perhaps a lot of my readers don’t know or don’t think they know anybody in this community.  How large and how active is the (what are the letters?) LGBT community in Redding and Shasta County?  Anyone?

Konner Boswell:  “I don’t have the exact numbers or anything but I think there’s more people than maybe the common person realizes.”

Pride Co-Chair:  “Statistically, about ten percent of the population is part of that category.  Here in Redding, some people are out; some people are not out.  But I know that just in our community that are out, it’s probably 400 – 500 that we know about.”

I’m going to ask a few more questions about the relationship between the Gay Community and the community at large, if I can say that instead of repeating letters.  But let’s talk about the festival itself real quick.  What exactly is going to take place at the festival?  It’s not a parade like we see in San Francisco or is it?

Pride Co-Chair:  “Actually, it kicks off with a parade at the Downtown Promenade.  The parade is around the Promenade and it will last anywhere between 20 – 30 minutes up to an hour, depending on how many people show up for the march.  After that the festival is over at Library Park, same place that Market Fest is held and it’ll be family friendly.  So there’ll be a lot of entertainment.  There’ll be children’s games.  There’ll be educational booths from a lot of different organizations around the area.  Hopefully, we’ll get the community involved and have some good conversations as well.

I think that’s important for some people from outside the community that you say it’s family friendly, because I think some of the expectations in this area or from people that I know . . .  I lived in San Francisco and I went to the Pride Parade down there and there was, you know?  I’d lived in Redding all my life.  I was absolutely shocked.  So we won’t see things like nudity for example?  Probably?

Pride Co-Chair:  “No.  This focuses on community and wanting to be part of the community and wanting to be family and integrating ourselves into it.  We can’t control what random other people may or may not do.  That includes the general public.  But we’re trying as much as we can to keep it family friendly.  There will be security in case there’s a problem.  And I, myself, have children and am going to bring them myself, so I’m totally comfortable with it.”

And I feel almost apologetic for asking, but I just feel that there are people in the community that will have that expectation because of . . .  I’m not sure why necessarily, but . . .

Konner Boswell:  “Sure.  I think that’s another reason why it’s important for people to realize that we are just normal people.  Unfortunately there is sometimes that negative stereotype or image and that’s part of what we’re trying to promote is we’re just normal people.”

And that’s kind of what I wanted to ask about too.  I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, but how would you describe the feeling in this community.  Do you think the community is hostile or is it a mix?

Konner Boswell:  “Personally, I’ve had good positive experiences, myself.  Unfortunately, I have friends that have, you know, the stories that they have shared of some real negative interactions with different people from the community.  But, me personally, my experience has been positive.”

This is possibly my most self-serving question that I’m going to ask, but how do you feel (and I mean either one of you want to answer this) about the way the local press and television covers an event like Pride Day or covers anything that has to do with the LGBT community?  Is it fair or is it not?  How do you feel about it?

Pride Co-Chair:  “I don’t think it’s really covered one way or another.  A lot of times if there’s a crime that happens, it’s kind of pushed under the covers.  But I don’t think there’s been a whole lot to cover.  So, I don’t really think that they’ve had a chance.  We’re hoping that this year they’ll say ‘Oh, look what positive influence there is.’  Sometimes there are comments on the Record Searchlight or whatever and then the public’s welcome to comment, but it’s been very minimal.”

But are you getting coverage of this event besides . . . ?  I don’t actually watch them, so I don’t know.  Are KRCR and Searchlight and the others, are they covering the event?

Pride Co-Chair:  “We don’t know yet.  We’re not sure.”

Oh, I’m breaking this story?

Pride Co-Chair:  “You’re breaking this story.”

Oh, this is a scoop!  That’s awesome.

So when we actually get to Library Park, what are we going to see there?  Is it going to look something like Market Fest with booths and so forth?

Pride Co-Chair:  “There’ll be booths, live entertainment.  We have a slew of bands and dancers.  We’re going to have food vendors.  We’re going to have crafters.  I’m not sure what else we’ll have yet, because we’re still in the planning process.”

The video may come out a little sooner, but the paper will come out one week from today.  That’ll be September 1st.  So, when this is published, do you think there’s still booths available for vendors or is that all tied up at this point?

Pride Co-Chair:  “It’ll be on an individual approval at that point.”

Is there anything about either Pride Day or gay issues in general that you think people in this area either don’t understand or could understand better?  (Or is there any issue that doesn’t fall into that category?)

Pride Co-Chair:  “There’s a slew of them.  Everything from religion and being gay (or trans or curious or whatever) to whether we’re hateful or whether we try to recruit people.  There’s tons and tons of issues, the lack of equality, the judgment that you get trying to get jobs and stuff even.  So, there’s a lot of issues.  Hopefully we can address and progress and hopefully Pride will be a key for that.”

Konner Boswell:  “Just education and awareness.  Like I said earlier, just us trying to show people that we’re just normal people.  Sometimes it just takes knowing somebody who identifies as LGBT and once they meet somebody, can actually meet a person and not just see the label then . . .”

Pride Co-Chair:  “It’s putting a name and face to it, you know, and you become real.”

Konner Boswell:  “It’s a person and not just a title.”

Almost the same as any other kind of prejudice, once you’ve made some friends, it’s a lot more difficult to hate people.

Konner Boswell:  “Absolutely.”

Pride Co-Chair:  “It is.”

So then, for the straight people in the audience, are they invited and what’s in it for them?

Both:  “Absolutely.”

Pride Co-Chair:  “Actually, the more the merrier.  That’d be nice, because it’s for the whole community.  It’s not about the LGBT, it’s everybody coming together.”

Konner Boswell:  “For the community at large.”

Pride Co-Chair:  “Everyone can use a little bit of education and socialization.”

I used to say down in San Francisco, the name of the parade kept getting longer and longer.  It was the “Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered” and then there were two or three others and I thought “You’re leaving out the straight people.  Now you’re being prejudiced.”  And my suggestion was call it the “Sexual Freedom Parade”.

Pride Co-Chair:  “It’s more than about sexuality too.”

Konner Boswell:  “It is.”

Pride Co-Chair:  “It’s about gender.  And actually now it includes ‘Allies” as part of the long list of names.”

Konner Boswell:  “LGBTIQQA”

They need to arrange them in a way that spells a word or something.

Pride Co-Chair:  “Otherwise, everybody’s welcome.” 

Redding Pride takes place September 8, 2012 in Library Park.

FreeThought Seeks New Center

Watch the Video
Listen to the Podcast

If someone had never heard of FreeThought Central and didn’t know anything about it, how would you describe it?

Christine Mitchell:  “I would describe it as a drop-in center where we welcome everyone to come in, discuss ideas, politics, read books, hook up to the Wi-Fi, have a cup of coffee, just a place to mingle and talk to people and get away from being stuck on the computer.”

Your organization has a political leaning, but you’re not affiliated with a political party.  Is that a fair statement?

Christine Mitchell:  “That’s correct.  Our organization is actually Shasta County Citizens for Democracy.  That’s who runs this drop-in center, FreeThought Central and we’re a progressive organization, but we are non-partisan.  So, that’s a lot of what people talk about here, but we certainly welcome all ideas.  We also have a lending library.  We also have books and DVD’s for sale.”

And T-shirts apparently.

Christine Mitchell:  “T-shirts, yes.  We have FreeThought Central T-shirts.  We have Occupy Redding T-shirts.  The KKRN Public Access Radio in Round Mountain, we have T-shirts to help support them.”

“Shasta County Citizens for Democracy along with the Viet Nam Veterans of America co-sponsored the Shasta County Veterans’ Collaborative and that’s every two months.  Every even numbered month we have a meeting at 11:30 at Shasta College, in the cafeteria and we have presenters who talk about different services for veterans.  We have veterans that come.  We have anybody that’s interested in veterans issues.  It’s kind of networking so people can find out about the different services and organizations and it’s been a real success.  We’ve been going on with that for about a year and a half now.”

How does Shasta County Citizens for Democracy and FreeThought Central fund itself?

Christine Mitchell:  “It’s all donations.  We have a great group of people that give us donations to keep the place open.”

And I assume the sale of these T-shirts and so forth?

Christine Mitchell:  “And the sale of the T-shirts and used books and DVD’s.”

And does that lead into what we came here to talk about, what you plan for the future?

Christine Mitchell:  “Yes, we are looking at getting a bigger facility.  We’d like to sell local goods, arts and crafts and things from the local area.  We really believe we need to work in the community.  The politicians are not going to fix the economy or fix the environment, so we need to try to do something for our community.  So we’d like to have a local little coffee bar and sell local goods and we need all the donations we can get to make that possible.”

Was a farmers’ market part of the plan?

Christine Mitchell:  “Yes, we plan to sell local produce and organic produce.  I’m thinking we may not do that as soon as we open the new place, but we will be working on getting that going too.”

What is it going to take to make this happen?

Christine Mitchell:  “Well, it’s going to take volunteers and it’s going to take raising money so that we can pay rent.  And I’m sure we’ll have to install a commercial sink and refrigerator and things if we want to have a coffee bar.  So, we’re going to need volunteers and we’re going to need people to help us with donations.  And when we open the place we plan on donating most of the profit back to community charities.”

Do you have a location in mind?

Christine Mitchell:  “We’ve looked at several but we don’t have a for sure location yet.  It will be in the City of Redding.”

And where are you located now, so that people can find you?

Christine Mitchell:  “We’re right on Bechelli.  We’re at 2675 Bechelli Lane and that’s right behind 2665 Bechelli.  Right past H & R Block, you’ll see a sign that says ‘Cookies’ in the driveway.  Just go in there and we’re #3.”

And the place next door actually has cookies?

Christine Mitchell:  “The place next door is actually a barber shop and the lady’s named ‘Cookie’”.

I just gave her a little free plug here.

Is that part of the reason for needing a new location?  Is this one difficult to find?

Christine Mitchell:  “Well, that and the fact that this is just too small.  If we want to go into retail, we have to have a bigger place.  Plus we want to have a place where we can show films and have meetings and this is pretty small facility.”

I realize that this is still kind of a long ways down the road, but what is your expected time table?  How long do you think it will take to get this done?

Christine Mitchell:  “I’m hoping within the next 2 – 3 months.”

That seems quite quick.  Do you think you can do that?

Christine Mitchell:  “Yeah, I think we can at least get the place and get a start on it by then.”

Do you have a dollar-amount target that you need to raise?

Christine Mitchell:  “We’d like to raise about $15,000 to get started.  But, you know, that’s a wish.”

What’s the contact information, website, phone number and so forth?

Christine Mitchell:

(530) 242-0309

Anything else you’d like to add?

Christine Mitchell:  “I think that’s it.  Thanks for the interview and we love your paper!”

Thank you.  I’m keeping that part.