Monday, January 24, 2011
You might also be able to refer us to potential financial supporters, businesses or services that might take an ad. in the program, and volunteer help (anything from outreach to nuts-and-bolts practical help - theater should be a community involvement). To help our outreach, request a pack of flyers and posters.
Call us : 831 - 234 - 2067 (Susan Russell) or e-mail - nicosuz @ yahoo.com
We also have Our Blog : bitterthefruit.blogspot.com
FINANCIAL APPEAL - Theater is one of the most engaging ways to put across a message, but it's also expensive. Please consider being a Financial Sponsor to cover such costs as theatre rental, fees to Lighting technician, and publicity materials. We welcome advance contributions of any size.
Each sponsorship of fifty-five dollars upward includes two tickets to any of four show dates. Over seventy dollars includes four tickets. You may choose to donate specifically to enable low income workers to see this show. We regret Workers Theater Company is not a registered non-profit, so we cannot offer a tax benefit.
We plan to pass on 30 per cent of all ticket sales to a suitable fund providing health care to farmworker families. Your generosity helps us fulfill that task.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
From "Go Green"
from the Santa Cruz SENTINEL here.
If you like strawberries or live in a strawberry growing region, you may now have reason to worry.
On Dec. 1 of last year, the California State Department of Pesticide Regulation approved the use of methyl iodide, a pesticide officially classified as a carcinogen under Proposition 65. Methyl iodide, also known as MeI, is slated as a replacement for the ozone-depleting methyl bromide for use on our region's valuable strawberry crop, as well as a variety of other flowers, fruits and vegetables.
While admitting its toxicity, regulators claim that "tough restrictions" will ensure the pesticide is safely applied. These restrictions include a permitting process and the use of buffer zones and tarps for containment. However, findings by the Department of Pesticide Regulation's own Scientific Review Committee cast doubt on the effectiveness of these strategies. In a report regarding the health risks of methyl iodide use, the committee states:
"Based on the data available, we know that methyl iodide is a highly toxic chemical and we expect that any anticipated scenario for the agricultural or structural fumigation use of this agent would result in exposures to a large number of the public and thus would have a significant adverse impact on the public health. Due to the potent toxicity of the methyl iodide, its transport in and the ultimate fate in the environment, adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible."
Furthermore, Dr. John Froines, chairman of the committee and professor at the School of Public Health at UCLA, called methyl iodide "without question one of the most toxic chemicals on earth." Indeed, the report cites as evidence the use of MeI as an agent to deliberately induce cancer in laboratory animal experiments.
Methyl iodide was first approved in 2007 by the Environmental Protection Agency for application nationwide. At that time, a group of scientists, including five Nobel laureates, came out in opposition to the EPA approval that resulted in the official listing of Mel as a pesticide. In a letter to the EPA, these scientists raised concerns about public health risks through contamination of airways, surface waters and underground water sources, especially to populations such as pregnant women, farmworkers, children, the elderly, even healthy adults living in agricultural areas.
"In addition to the potential for increased cancer incidence, U.S. EPA's own evaluation of the chemical also indicates that methyl iodide causes thyroid toxicity, permanent neurological damage, and fetal losses in experimental animals."
Concerned, a group of scientists, farmworkers and environmentalists are challenging California's ruling. On Dec. 30, Earthjustice and California Rural Legal Assistance filed a lawsuit against the state on behalf of Pesticide Action Network North America, United Farm Workers, Californians for Pesticide Reform, Pesticide Watch Education Fund, Worksafe, Communities and Children Advocated Against Pesticide Poisioning, and farmworkers Jose Hidalgo Ramon and Zeferina Estrada. It is their hope that upon taking office Gov. Jerry Brown will reverse the state's decision made under the Schwarzenegger administration.
Admittedly, methyl iodide is not indispensible to a healthy strawberry crop. In a December Huffington Post article, John Kirst, CEO of the Ventura County Farm Bureau, is quoted as stating, "The industry [isn't] going to go under without it, but it's important to keep these tools available."
In fact, the Pesticide Action Network points to the success of Santa Cruz County's own Swanton Berry Farm -- an organic berry farm with a profitable business model-- as evidence that strawberries can be grown en masse without the use of fumigants www.swantonberryfarm.com.
Among possible replacements for chemical fumigants, farmers in Idaho have been experimenting with adding mustard seed to their crop rotation. As a result they have both kept pests at bay and saved money. For more information, read the following article online at www.panna.org/sites/default/files/SpreadTheWordMustard.pdf
Here's what you can do:
Interested in voicing your opposition to the use of methyl iodide? Sign the Pesticide Action Network's petition asking the EPA to rethink its position on methyl iodide at the following link: http://action.panna.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=2784
You can also contact governor Brown's office to voice your concerns by calling 916 445-2841 or by sending a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173, Sacramento, CA 95814.
Jennifer Parrish writes a biweekly column for the Sentinel. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, January 17, 2011
Jan 17 2011
Santa Cruz, Ca. -- Producer, director, writer, Nicholas Whitehead's new play, Bitter the Fruit, which documents the struggle of two teachers, their students, and their worker parents against the use of the lethal and ozone-depleting fumigant, methyl bromide on area strawberry fields, will have its premier performance on February 19th, at 8:00PM at the Broadway Playhouse (formerly the Santa Cruz Art League) on Broadway, near Ocean St. Three more performances are planned.
Saturday Feb 19 -- 8PM -- Opening night
Sunday Feb 20 -- Afternoon matinee
Friday, Feb 25th at 8PM
Saturday, Feb 26th at 8 PM -- Final performance
in association with West Performing Arts
Friday, January 14, 2011
by Nick Whitehead
January 14, 2011
The story of the play is based on actual struggles of teachers, parents and students against Methyl Bromide use on strawberry fields next to school campuses. Simultaneously there was a huge Union-organizing drive by the
United Farm Workers of America. Strawberry pickers sought collective bargaining rights to raise their family incomes and provide their families with guaranteed health insurance.
These labor and environmental demands, heavily resisted by the Strawberry Industry, drew prominent celebrities to Watsonville, including Hollywood actor Martin Sheen and Robert Kennedy Jr. Local clergy chained themselves in protest to the gates of one big employer. Eventually, top U.S. Labor officials flew in from Washington D.C., joined by Rainbow Coalition figure Jesse Jackson. A huge rally and march brought statewide prominence to the small agricultural town.
There were two final outcomes. On the Methyl Bromide front, growers started voluntarily withdrawing from proximity to school classrooms. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation commenced monitoring the "chemical drift" in air currents that threatened the health of local residents. The second outcome gave labor a big breakthrough when a purchase deal was arranged behind the scenes so that new progressive owners acquired the biggest berry grower. Within a year, the workforce voted to be unionized under the U.F.W.
The outcome was not so sanguine for the activist teachers intent on protecting their students. One was forced to leave, the other was transferred away from students she loved. These women had applied their conscience. The School District had retaliated.
In our story there is also a fictional budding romantic relationship between an Irish-American environmental scientist and a Latina "fraisera" (strawberry picker). But this possibility is not so fanciful. In the real-life struggle, a committed love relationship evolved between a leading UFW organizer and an Anglo woman journalist. In times of historic pressure and tumult, people find the comfort and affection they need.
Friday, January 7, 2011
by Becky Johnson
January 7 2011
Santa Cruz, Ca. -- Did you know that Methyl Bromide, the Class 1 nerve gas and toxic fumigant used to sterilize soil prior to commercial strawberry plantings...
-- causes less than 1% of the ozone-depleting potential in the upper atmosphere of the world?
-- can still be applied to crops provided the countries wishing to continue its use, opt out by applying for a Critical Use Exemption (CUE). A country is deemed eligible if the country has conducted sufficient alternative research but is still unable to find a viable, safe alternative to methyl bromide."
--May 16, 2002--The non-profit California Rural Legal Assistance settled its lawsuit suit against Monterey County and the state Department of Pesticide Regulation on behalf of a north Monterey County resident who alleged he was exposed to unsafe levels of the farm fumigant methyl bromide. The suit was filed last year after levels of the chemical were found to exceed state standards in air-quality tests taken near two schools- La Joya Elementary School in Salinas and Pajaro Middle School in northern Monterey County. Those tests found concentrations of 7.7 parts per billion far exceeding the state guideline for safe exposure for children.
--According to the University of California, the loss of methyl bromide would cost direct losses to California business up to $346 million per year, with 9,894 full-time jobs lost annually. --- Trical Inc.--a distributor and applicator of soil fumigation products
Jan 7 2011
Santa Cruz, Ca. -- Watch for a new, original play written and produced by local playwright, Nicholas Whitehead sometime this February. Bitter the Fruit tells a story of two teachers who find their classrooms surrounded by class one nerve gas and agripolitics. Based on the courageous stand taken by two Pajaro Valley teachers in the late '90's against the poisoning of the fields near their classrooms with methyl bromide (a toxic favorite of commercial strawberry growers), Bitter the Fruit shows how little has changed in the world of strawberry production considering methyl bromide was banned in 2005.
Previously, Whitehead has written and produced "Home Sweet Homeless," "Can't Stop the Clock" and was a co-producer on Club Cruz which aired at Community Television of Santa Cruz County.
For more information, contact Nick at : (831) 475-2012 Or e-mail Susan at email@example.com