Plenty of pondering at Lifetree Cafe

By Robbie Ippolito
Flapjack Staff

To all those who are seeking a space where they can engage in scintillating conversation with open-minded people without fear of judgement or embarrassment, the place for you is closer than you think.

The Lifetree Cafe, located on the corner of Union and 13th street in Arcata, is alive with passionate discussions and debates. On Sunday, Feb. 12, at 7p.m., the Lifetree Cafe hosted an exploration on the origins of crop circles.

Yes. Crop circles. The topic was introduced along with a reminder from the host to keep an open mind and hold back immediate judgements. The exercise then weaved between watching clips of crop circle experts and engaging in small group discussion about the clips. The conclusion that cafe reached as a whole was that crop circles are still a mystery and simply cannot be explained without more information, which led to the final question of the night: How do we deal with things we can’t explain?

This is just one of the many interesting topics covered during the weekly discussions that are held at the cafe. Some of the topics assigned for upcoming discussions are police brutality, the science of love, and the area between spirituality and religion.

“We want everyone to feel welcome,” said Bob Dipert, head of the Arcata branch of the Lifetree Cafe organization, “which is why we cover so many different things. Nearly anything that folks find curious or want to talk about, we’ll talk about here.”

Lifetree is a religious organization. Their mission, as stated on their website, is “To help people grow in relationship with Jesus,” and while this could turn off people that have a faith other than Catholicism, the conversations themselves are very seldom focused on the Bible.

“There usually is like a ‘God’ moment,” explained Rachel Warze, an Arcata mechanic and longtime attendee of the weekly discussions. “But it’s not really focused on Jesus or anything. It’ll be more like a group prayer than a Bible study.”

Lifetree is a nationwide organization that holds meetings and discussions all across the country on the same night. They celebrate the act of coming together, making new friends, and engaging in something that people care about for the sake of those people.

“So we’re talking about crop circles here, but they’re doing the same thing in Menlo Park and in Coalinga,” said Myrna Dipert, wife of Bob Dipert and organizer for their events. “Basically all of us, all of us across the country are together tonight, breaking bread and sharing in something that’s really unique.”

Eureka accidents wreck locals’ confidence

By Oliver Cory
Flapjack Chronicle

According to the City of Eureka Transportation Safety Action Plan, the city of Eureka has seen an increase in vehicle accidents in the past five years. Because of this increase, some citizens have grown concerned about the city’s method of dealing with this issue.

“These people around here drive like shit,” Tim Chabot said. “They don’t stop at the cross walks like their supposed to.”

Chabot, a San Antonio native who has lived in Eureka for four years, said the he was particularly concerned with the turn before the intersection at 5th and O streets.

“That’s a car wreck waiting to happen right there,” Chabot said. “The city does nothing to fix it, just leaves it the way it is.”

Chabot plans to become a Humboldt Transit Authority bus driver, but he said that in order to do so he would have learn how to drive defensively.

“Somebody should do something about the crappy traffic and the crappy driving here in town, before there’s, you know, unnecessary deaths and more graves getting dug to bury those bodies,” Chabot said.

According to the City of Eureka Transportation Safety Action Plan, the City of Eureka had 846 vehicle accidents which resulted in 378 injuries and five deaths in 2013.

Kelvin Stanhope, a Kansas City native, said that he has seen multiple accidents on Broadway in which vehicles have driven through stop stoplights and rear ended other vehicles. However, he said that he hasn’t had any issues with the traffic in Eureka, and he feels that the drivers are courteous.

“Traffic’s pretty good,” Kelvin Stanhope said. “It’s kind of dangerous to ride on Broadway.”

According to the City of Eureka Transportation Safety Action Plan: “The primary collision factors for injury crashes between 2008 and 2012 were auto right-of-way violations, unsafe speed (including following too close) and traffic sign and signal violations.”

“The city of Eureka really has no coordinated effort to create a safe walkable city or neighborhoods,” Eureka resident Kathy Srabian said. “The city of Eureka’s engineer, his job by definition is to maintain traffic flow. This does not speak to safety at all.”

Srabian grew concerned enough with the matter that she started her own group called Safe Streets Eureka. The goal of Safe Streets Eureka is to educate the public about transportation safety in Eureka and present ideas of how the city can create a safer environment for its inhabitants.

“Eureka Transportation Safety is a dance between, the driving culture, the education, mindset and discipline of the drivers, street engineering, and law enforcement,” Srabian said.

In 2013, the City of Eureka released a plan to reduce collisions by twenty percent by 2024. Srabian said that it should be taken care of before then.

To learn more about Safe Streets Eureka visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Safe-Streets-Eureka/300379216760346

To view the City of Eureka Transportation Safety Action Plan visit: http://www.ci.eureka.ca.gov/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=9172

The Bay Delta Conservation Project: What is it Conserving?

By Madi Whaley
Flapjack Chronicle

The Bay Delta Conservation Project released the new Draft Environmental Impact Report for public viewing on Monday, Dec. 9.   This plan had previously raised controversy on the grounds that it may pose serious threats to endangered fish species in the Delta.  The new draft is meant to assuage some of these worries.

“This would be the nail in the coffin, extinguishing at least two of those five species,” Bob Wright, senior counsel for Friends of the River, says of the previous draft.

The proposed plan would create water diversions further north in the Delta, which would alter the concentrations of salts in the water, which according to environmentalists, would essentially exposing the fish to waters they are not adapted to.  There are other possible methods of obtaining fresh water and the plan falters a bit in practicality because of the possible effects of climate change, so whether or not this is really the best idea is still being debated.

“[This is] what we view to be simply an unlawful process going on, particularly in violation of the Endangered Species Act,” Wright says.

Friends of the River believe the original project poses threats to five listed endangered species of fish.  This includes the Sacramento River Winter Run and Summer Run Chinook Salmon, Central California Coast Steelhead, the Green Sturgeon, and the Delta Smelt.  Construction of the tunnels could lead, Wright believes, to the extinction of at least 2 of those 5 species.

It remains to be seen whether or not some of the following concerns will be assuaged.

The proposed plan calls for the restoration and protection of about 145,000 acres of Delta habitat.  Carl Wilcox, policy advisor to the director for the Delta at California Department of Fish and Wildlife, is working on the plan for habitat restoration.

“The BDCP has 214 goals and objectives and those are at the natural community landscape and species levels, and consequently its conservation measures are designed to those in particular,” explains Wilcox

Nevertheless, the BDCP has received a hefty amount of criticism from various groups outside of the project who believe it could actually have detrimental effects on the delta habitat it proposes to protect.

“The advantage from the proponent’s side is that if water was diverted from the northern part of the delta there could be more effective screens to keep fish out of the diversions,” Jonas Minton, water policy advisor for the Planning and Conservation League and former deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources, says.

Minton explains that the current diversions are in the South Delta, which is essentially a slough.  Because of this, the fish sucked into that area generally die.

However, the project may not render the effect that it is looking for.

“The problem in placing a diversion in the north delta is that it would keep that amount of fresh water from mixing,” Minton says.  “The Delta is an estuary, where ocean water and fresh water mix.”

He went further to say that creating diversions in the North Delta would therefore likely change the salinity of the water.

“Fish species have evolved over the years from that mixed condition,” Minton says.  “Because the fish are native only to the delta, when you alter that salinity mix, it is quite possible that these fish will not be able to survive.”

Another less prominent concern is that of the endangered Sandhill Cranes.  The tunnels will be dug under Staten Island, which serves as a home for many Sandhill Cranes during the winter. Jane Wagner-Tyack, policy analyst at Restore the Delta, believes the “disturbance of Staten Island is going to be very bad for the Sandhill Cranes.”

The effects that climate change may have on undergoing this project is yet another issue to take into account.  Seeing as it is unlikely that we will be able to accurately predict the hydrological cycle in future decades, preparing for changes creates a potential problem.

Chris Austin, author of Maven’s Notebook, believes that climate change will be a sure obstacle in the creation of and the possible enactment of the plan.

“Climate change is definitely the big game changer,” Austin says.  “[It is] mostly incorporating sea level rise. They’re proposing to restore a lot of habitat but there’s a lot of uncertainty about whether that habitat is going to improve things.”

Wagner-Tyack and many other environmentalists agree.

“One thing that is pretty clear is that in California we have drought a third of the time,” Wagner- Tyack says.  “It’s a routine… When you add he uncertainty that is associated with climate change, it’s very hard to know how a system will be operated either for export use or for the ecosystem when we really don’t know.”

However, according to Wilcox, the potential impacts of climate change are being taken into account in the plan.

“What you see is that with climate change, with maintaining the status quo, water supply and the species get worse,” Wilcox says.   “[That] is accounted for in the modeling.”

The BDCP is challenged by many of those opposed to it who feel as though it only serves to benefit big agriculture in Southern California rather than the urban areas.

“It’s called a conservation plan,” Wright says.  “No, no, no.  It’s not a conservation plan.   It’s a water grab… Our point of view is that all this water is, is for subsidized, big ag.   That they’re the ones who want the giant tunnels, and they want the water, and they also want to be free to sell it to others.”

However, getting water supply to farmers may truly be a necessity.

“Its hard to paint agriculture as the big bad guy,” Austin says.  “We’re going to need more food for all these people that are going to be coming onto the planet.”

The proposal, made under the Brown administration, has become a controversy between the interest of agriculture and environmental advocates.  It would transport water from the Sacramento Delta to big agriculture and urban areas in Southern California via two large aqueduct tunnels.  It is expected to cost about $25 billion and require an estimated 50 years to complete.

Thus, with alternative water supply options, the question of whether or not the plan is necessary has been brought up for debate.  Some feel as though diverting water over such long distances could be an inefficient method of transporting water to Southern California.

The effectiveness of groundwater clean up and usage in Southern California is already being demonstrated by Irvine Ranch Water District.  Therefore, with the urban population in mind along with agricultural businesses, it is seen by some environmentalists as an inefficient way to get water to those in Southern California.  Many, like Minton and Wagner-Tyack, believe other methods, such as recycled water, cleaning and using groundwater, and creating storm water traps would be more sustainable and efficient ways to give Southern Californians good water.

“What we really need to be doing is investing in local infrastructure,” Wagner-Tyack says.

The Delta supplies water for 22 million people in California.  It also has over 1,800 agricultural users and supports about 500 plant and animal species.

“The delta needs to have more water running through it,” Austin says.  “Only a small portion of the water from the delta is exported—far more is actually diverted before it ever gets to the delta.  No one wants to give up their water, but the delta needs more outflow…  I think, truly, everyone needs to give something up for that. We could do better, certainly, on the conservation, and we need to.”

Still, the hope of the BDCP is to induce conservation efforts through implementation of the project.

“As the species have continued to decline, water supply reliability from the project has declined,” says Wilcox.  “So BDCP decides to look at things more holistically.”

With such a polarized issue, it may be difficult to find common ground between both sides.  However, action will be taken in some form.  What that form looks like might be different from what both sides have been hoping for.

“When you get down to the nitty gritty, maybe it’s not so bad,” Austin says.  “The answer’s always somewhere in the middle of the road.”

The new draft is now available for viewing and will be open for Public Comment from Dec.13 to Apr. 14, 2014 at baydeltaconservationplan.com

Braving the Rain on Two Wheels

By Jonathan Hagstrom

Flapjack Chronicle

Many of Humboldt State’s students rely on their cheapest and most available mode of transportation: bicycles. However, with the rainy season arriving, that may change drastically.
Amber Yates, 19, undeclared, explains how her biking habits change with the seasons.
“I just don’t ride (in wet weather),” Yates said.
Many bike commuters switch to driving a car or walking when rain is an issue, but not everyone has the option to stop biking.
Heavy rain can be more than a nuisance, as it reduces visibility and stopping power, and can jeopardize your bike’s functionality.
Rain provides conditions which make a front and rear bike light even more essential to your safety while commuting at night, by lighting up the road and making you more visible to motor vehicles. It is also important to keep your own vision clear by blocking water from getting in your eyes. This is challenging to do without using glasses or goggles, which tend to get fogged up. A visor brim such as one built into a raincoat hood is one of the best options.
This also has its downside, as a hood could block your peripheral vision. This can be remedied by using the straps from a helmet to press it tight against your face.
Rainy-day biking attire can be more than a raincoat. Depending on how wet you get during your commute, you may consider including rain pants and even rain booties to cover your shoes.

Vince Smith, co-owner of Life Cycle in Arcata, gave some insight to the importance of adapting to the rain.

“It just depends on the degree of safety and comfort you want,” said Smith.
Another hindrance created by rain is the loss of braking power. This is caused by a lack of friction between wet brake pads and a wet wheel. It is important to be aware of the resulting delayed response when stopping. Jess Benbrook, 20, environmental science, described his experience with this phenomenon.
“I had to adjust the brakes because they were just rubbing from wetness instead of stopping,” said Benbrook.
Compounded with the slickness of roads when wet, it is easy to see how wet weather can be treacherous.
Wet weather can take a toll on the condition of your bike as well. Bike maintenance becomes much more crucial, as your chain can rust after only one wet ride.

Cleaning and re-lubing your chain after each use discourages this from happening.

Dave Parker, a local bike mechanic, stressed the importance of this procedure.

“Wipe down your bike and lube your chain no matter what,” said Parker.
Storing your bike indoors will also play a major role in preventing rust.

Fenders also play an important role in keeping your bike in tip-top shape, as they keep your bike’s moving parts drier and cleaner. They keep water and mud from splashing from the tires onto the bike’s drive chain. Also, they reduce the muck being thrown in your face by the front tire and up your back by the rear.
It is easy for students to think that preparing for a bike trip in the rain is not a priority. John Ferrera, 24, journalism, seems to think his mountain bike doesn’t need adaptation.
“It handles fine,” said Ferrera.

Panel At HSU: Degree vs. Debt

By Jonathan Hagstrom

Flapjack Chronicle

A student-led panel of local college administrators and experts explored the issue of higher education debt at Humboldt State University on Thursday.

Students were able to ask questions of HSU President Rollin Richmond and College of the Redwoods President Kathryn Smith, as well as experts on economics and career development.

The public forum was a chance to pose tough questions concerning subjects like the real-life value of higher education degrees, job opportunities, and the sometimes-overwhelming future of debt for graduates.

Notecards were handed out to the audience prior to the discussion, with the instructions to submit questions for the panel to discuss.

Dr. Rollin Richmond encouraged the student attendees by saying, “The most important type of investing is in yourself.”

The panel also consisted of Humboldt County Director of Economic Development Jacqueline Debets, Humboldt County Workforce Investment Board member Bryan Plumley and HSU Career Center Development Coordinator Joy Soll.

The general consensus among the panel was that University degrees are still of unsurpassed value in the job market, even though they are increasing in price. Students were encouraged to live frugally to balance student loans.

While reflecting on the event, Connor Jepson, 22, a journalism student, said he agreed with the speakers’ sentiments that a master’s degree is typically not a good investment nowadays.

“From my own experience with looking at grad schools, you’re not going to get a substantial return financially on investing in a master’s degree. It’s the Ph.D. or nothing,” said Jepson.

Many seemed to appreciate the free advice and snack bar, but students such as John Ferrara, 24, studying journalism, were skeptical about the effectiveness of such an event.

“It seems most of the students attending this are already screwed. It would make more sense to know this stuff before taking out loans,” said Ferrara.