Life is but a green

Life in a green parallel universe

by Catherine Turner

“It is computed that eleven thousand persons have at several

times suffered death rather than submit to break eggs at the

smaller end.”  Mildred sat across the hall from him.
“What does it mean? It doesn’t mean anything.”

“It’s whatever you want it to be.”

Kevin Byrd, New River Valley Planning District Commission Executive Director

What did life used to be like?………

It’s all getting pretty fuzzy. I used to watch HGTV. I used to have a garden that grew more tomatoes and peppers than weeds. I used to bake focaccia almost every day. That was almost a year ago, before I started to need a chain on my reading glasses and a stronger prescription. That was before my introduction to Agenda 21.

Some people, when they first hear about it, think it sounds so sci-fi and over the top that you’re a nut job if you bring it up. That’s why they had to start calling it something else, like “Sustainable Development” or “Smart Growth”. What’s not to like about smart or sustainable? Agenda 21 sounded eerily interesting, sorta Ray Bradbury-esque. What I heard at a presentation one evening last fall set me back on my heels. How could I have missed something that’s been around for most of my life, one of the best kept secrets that’s nowhere close to being secret?

Before meeting the guy that I would marry and follow east from California’s Central Coast to

Pulaski, VA seven years ago,

I’d pretty much done most everything I’d dreamed about. Life was my oyster….make mine bbq’d over an oak fire with garlic, good bread and a great Sauvignon Blanc. I had survived a raucous childhood that started with 15 different grade schools and a lot of HUD housing. I’d gone back-to-the-land in the Sierra Nevada and become a cabinetmaker. Divorced and armed with a 2-year culinary degree I later became an executive chef at a respected Bay Area restaurant and then at Stanford University. Exhausted by all that, I went down the Coast to Monterey and instead of sweating over a hotline I started writing about it. For five years I wrote almost the entire food section of one of the most liberal alternative weeklies in the state. Then I wrote for the start-up Carmel Magazine. I was poor but I ate well and lived in a beautiful place.

I wrote stories about people who had come from all over the world to open their “own little place” where they would work hard and get their  piece  of the pie. The one of their choosing. I wrote a children’s book, The Adventures of Monterey Jack, that I hoped would spark

some interest in kids about cooking and eating good stuff.

Alice Waters, the God-mother of eating local even called it “charming” on the back cover.I marveled when  I read Jack to a crowd of 100 kids in my husband’s West Virginia hometown. Those coalfield kids and I tasted some good cheese and in my mind anyway, got to see the Monterey Bay together.

I fell in love with Virginia, so much like the Tennessee of my itinerant youth. I had never paid much attention to politics. I got a rude introduction when my husband and I decided to pursue our dream of an equestrian development on Claytor Lake.  I would have a real country store. He would build some homes on our 70 acres. Roanoke’s Hill Studio drew up the plans—a “green” project, with 80% open space—Gaye & Neel did all the engineering, and we thought everyone would love it as much as we did.

“Everyone” had other ideas. Our “neighbors” wanted us to put our property into a conservation easement. Passed by the Planning Commission, the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors declined our Special Use Permit. Our “neighbors” had convinced them that open space was the better part of valor. Not that they offered to pay the mortgage. Which we’re still paying.

Betcha didn’t know that………………………………….

  • The Conservation Reserve Program, established in 1986, has led to more than 30 million acres of land being taken out of crop production and put into permanent grass

    and tree cover.

  • The San Joaquin Valley has for the last two years lain fallow. The state and feds turned the water off. 50,000 acres out of production. 40,000 jobs lost. We’re not clever enough to purportedly save a minnow and what was formerly known as America’s Bread Basket.

  • The Virginia Outdoors Foundation is partnered with the USDA (that’s right—-your tax dollars at work!) buying up millions of dollars of private property in the Commonwealth. Land owners get their cake and eat it, too. Who cares if the notion of “private” property is on the endangered list?

 They used to grow food in Kansas...Now they want to grow it on the moon and eat it raw.
 I can see the day coming when even your home garden...Is gonna be against the law. Bob Dylan, Infidels, 1983


Oh yeah—we’d had another entrepreneurial fling in

the old downtown—a restaurant venture that didn’t

get off the ground, beyond months of demo on,

ironically enough, (keep reading) the old

Southwest Times building. The draconian fire

codes made my husband throw up his hands and

say “screw it”. Our $20,000 sprinkler system the

plans called for wasn’t enough to satisfy the fire

marshal and building department. The old architectural moldings we’d painstakingly exposed

would have to be covered up again. Feggedaboutit.

ICLEI (ICK-ley)…the United Nations spectre in your hometown

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives.

They’re in 18 locales in Virginia, 600+ across the country, 1100 ‘round the world. They’re partnered with Roanoke and Blackburg.

Welcome to historic Abingdon, with the charming flavor of the old South. It’s a beautiful old town, with manicured lawns and imposing antebellum architecture.

Excuse me? ICLEI is here, too?

Sad, and true. The Mayor of Abingdon says that their only influence is about planting trees and recycling. his reply?  When I reminded him of the Town’s commitment to lower the carbon footprint by 30%—using the ICLEI software—and that it’s an Article 1 §10 Constitutional no-no to buddy up with the UN, his reply?

“The courts can decide.”

Why should it matter?

Well, because there’s the little problem of unelected “advisors” that the voters never heard of (“ICK-ley? Who’s ICK-ley??”) getting a seat in your local government and from there getting their mitts on your Comprehensive Plan. And from there doing what’s been done to California’s Central Valley, and in South Carolina and is underway in every county in the country through benign-sounding, politically correct Sustainable Development.

What happened to the TRUTH?

The truth is in rare public display. So offended by Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey’s bullying of the Roanoke Tea Party, I rang him up.

“Mr. Casey, have you ever looked at any of the United Nations websites on Agenda 21?”

Mr. Casey: “I read about it in Colorado’s Governor’s race.”

“Mr. Casey, have you ever looked at any of the United Nations websites on Agenda 21?”

Mr. Casey: “No.”

Only 3,640,000 Google hits in 0.17 seconds. Too much of an intellectual investment?

The New River Valley “Livability Initiative”

We still have property and a residence in the New River Valley.  I’d like to sell it so my husband doesn’t have to work so hard. My last chef’s position paid almost $100K year in Pebble Beach. Right now my career pays less than when I started—about $10/hour, by the time you add ‘em all up. And real estate’s not moving in this quagmire.

But the New River Valley’s got a brand new plan. One not many NRV folks

have heard much about….

Cleverly dubbed “Rural Sustainability Hubs”, it’s a fetching idea cooked up by HUD, the EPA and US DOT. Coincidental to Obama’s Executive Order 13575, the  White House Rural Council purports to exert broad municipal powers over the food, fiber, and energy production of Rural America. Our piece of this pie has a cheery blueprint for everything:

“Rural Sustainability Hubs” is the best way to accommodate future growth without losing unique identity while creating a new model for planning in a rural region. Using the concept of connected Sustainability Hubs as an organizing concept, the New River Valley Regional Sustainability Plan will integrate land use, housing, transportation, energy efficiency and conservation, natural resources, agriculture, food systems, arts and culture, and information technology throughout the region.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Well, Executive Director Kevin Byrd of the NRV Planning District Commission promises that they’ll get around to telling you about it. They’re gonna make their big public splash on Thursday, August 11th at Claytor Lake State Park. Too busy working, you say? Well, they’ve got lots of folks in their Consortium…Va Teach and non-profits and NGO’s (non-government organizations) that will be there in your place. And an Advisory Council, too….more non-profits and NGO’s.

(Gee, Kevin, you still haven’t called me since I asked you about being on that Council…)

Just for fun, here’s the NRVPDC 2010 Budget….found on page 22:

EXPENDITURES  Salaries 839,915.35 (Budget) 738,951.99 (Actual) Benefits 240,164.35 (Budget) 230,781.08 (Actual) Travel 55,813.30 34,429.06 Office Space 53,583.72 53,582.04 Telephone 6,397.92  6,256.42 Office Supplies  29,702.61 18, 925.00 Postage 7,807.45 3,566.92 Printing/Copies/Plotting 24,627.24 10,299.97 Map Purchases 0.00 0.00 Media Adv. 4,152.44 2,052.65 Equip. Rent/Equip. Maint. 22,867.90 13,250.77 Dues & Pubs 8,500.00 6,621.44Training 1,250.00 297.00Meeting Costs 1,247.70 36.00 Depreciation 2,891.88 2,891.88Insurance 8,700.00 5,701.00Capital Outlay 5,500.00 4,556.47 Contract Serv. 14,949.00 24,872.05 Audit Fee 8,295.00 7,475.04 Misc. 6,150.00 14,518.84TOTAL EXPENDITURES 1,342,515.86 (Budget) 1,179,065.62 (Actual)

The Floyd Planning Commission rolls out the draft of their new

Comprehensive Plan…

On July 18th, I attended the unveiling of the Comp Plan in Floyd. During my three minutes at the podium I asked the overflow crowd who’s ever heard of the NRV Livability Initiative? A few hands went up….mostly Floyd Tea Party folks. The Summary Overview states that citizens of Floyd are concerned about selling off their future “to the highest bidder”.  It would almost sound like Floyd likes the concept of their own sovereignty.

I took no pleasure in pointing out that the highest bidder is the Federal Government. The governing document of the New River Valley Sustainability Plan is the HUD grant description, 48 pages alone mandating what grant recipients “must” and “shall” do. It’s called REGIONALISM, folks, and history continues to retell the misery of what top-down bureaucratic government is capable of.

Sooo, the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the Livability Initiative

Partnership Agreement in May?

They did according to NRVPDC’s main guy. “May 5th,” says Kevin Byrd. On tape, as a matter of fact.I asked him myself, along with four other folks from Floyd, Pulaski and Dublin in a private meeting that included the new “Outreach Facilitator” and “Project Coordinator”. That’s funny, because when I submitted a FOIA request on July 21st to obtain a copy of the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors May minutes, their was nothing in it about a vote to sign the Partnership Agreement. And here it is, July 28th, and this page cannot be found. It only looks like they’ve been posted.

What appeared on the agreement was the signature of County Administrator Peter Huber. Not exactly who the voters elected to make that decision.

The July 25th PuCo Board Meeting, held at Pulaski County High School to

accommodate the crowd….

(I’d estimated 200 in the press release I put out, but somebody else said 400 and the Southwest Times just said “hundreds”) … anyway, there were a LOT of people there. Many of whom were mad as hell. The whole “hub” idea doesn’t win many folks—besides the grant writers and professors and Blacksburg crowd—exactly over.

I presented to the Board the highlights of Dr. Martin Mangino’s dissertation (coming here soon) on why it’s absurd (my word) to make Climate Change part of public policy when the whole rationale is faulty at best.  I would add here that Climate Change is politically charged to a criminal degree. Just check out the Obama-Valerie Jarrett-Al Gore Chicago Climate Exchange connection.

I also pointed out how the whole Livability Initiative Abstract—not to mention the HUD Description and all the other dogma-that-ran-over-my-environmental-justice karma thrown in from the EPA and DOT—is loaded up with “social equity” for the underserved.

Social equity/social justice….whatever.

Karl Marx coined the phrase and having survived a number of years growing up in “the projects”, I give my personal guarantee that it wasn’t Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty or HUD’s design inspiration that got me out.  I’m pretty sure I could out-ghetto the LI’s “Qualified Experts”, consultants Wallace Roberts and Todd and PlaceMatters, with both hands tied behind my back.

Doesn’t it just figure that now Big Brother’s gonna bring the projects

to the sticks???

But the hands-down worst part of this mind-blower of my green parallel

universe is the recurring scene in my head from this past Monday night

when I’m standing up there in front of the Board of Supervisors and the crowd of “hundreds” and my lips are moving

and I’m waving the papers in front of them showing them that THEY never signed on to this thing,

THEIR APPOINTEE did, so an agreement this-does-not-make and….

the microphone was on, the sound was working,

I read them their Oaths of Office

and despite my best efforts, they could or would not hear.

Other folks tried, too. Asked if they voted to join the partnership, repeating the June 27th meeting, Mr. Conner still could not remember, Chairman Sheffey finally stated that he’s signed the Memorandum of Agreement (not the same thing), Mr. Bopp said he signed whatever Sheffey did and there was a general shrug from the other two.

But wait….it gets spookier. The Roanoke Times / NRV Edition left that part out, and so did

the Southwest Times; Woefully unmentioned is the part where the Board does not have to

opt OUT of something that they never lawfully opted INTO.

I know that back when I was writing about food, and the newspaper publisher wanted me to start writing critiques, I couldn’t do it. I’d slugged it out in the kitchen too many years to want to pick on somebody for a subject as subjective as food.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

We’re talking about a “monumental” (their word) plan to affect every aspect of how people in the New River Valley eat, work, travel and live their lives.

When Kevin Byrd was asked during our private meeting what our Hubs would look like, say in ten years, his reply…

“Whatever you want it to be.”

The Pulaski County Board of Supervisors never voted to join that


I seriously doubt that they ever “read the bill”.  As Mr. Conner says, “We get so many of them.” At least that was an honest response. The County Administrator “voted” with his signature and the NRVPDC Executive Director backed him up.

There is a referendum recall process in Virginia. I wonder if any of them are aware of that yet.

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