This is a special Turf, featuring commentary and observations of Scott Taylor and Amanda Hain from The Dolphin Embassy.
I have known of Scott for quite awhile, he is a fellow traveller, and resides in Australia with his partner Amanda. Both are working hard for the Sea Peoples, The Dolphins, The Whales, and the health of all who live in the briny deep.
(All Photos were taken by Scott and Amanda, see below the article.)
More Turf Coming Later on Friday.
The Links: The Taking of the Farm – Blue Meanies and all that…
The Dolphin Embassy was heading toward LA to rendezvous with our old friend Leslie Morava when she told us of her involvement at the South Central Farm. She began by asking if we knew that there was a 14 acre
organic farm in downtown LA, in the warehouse district. Of course, we, like most people, knew nothing of the farm.
Leslie invited us to meet her there. She warned us before we arrived that we would be trespassing on so called “private land” if we entered the gates, and that we would be participating in a large act
of civil disobedience if we did. We headed straight for the farm.
Arriving in mid-afternoon, we found a huge, two-city-block area, fenced with tall wire fencing topped with razor wire. This was surrounding a paradise of small garden plots, full of food, green herbs, corn, large stands of nopal (the edible cactus of northern
Mexico), banana trees, peach trees, onions, squash and an endless variety of greens and vegetables. Paths wandered between plots, wandering alleyways between fences. There were faucets rising out of
the ground for watering systems. There were sheds and cleaning tables interspersed with shaded arbors overhung with grape vines, under hanging banana bunches.
We parked on a side steet, alongside the fence. We walked around the corner, reading the signs hanging everywhere. “Green, not Greed!”, “SCF is the lungs of LA!”, “AQUI ESTAMOS, Y NO NOS VAMOS!”. The front
gate was guarded by a young man, who looked us over carefully, grinned a huge grin, and welcomed us in.
On a former downtown street, now closed off and enclosed by fences and embraced by a multitude of gardens (over 350 of them), we found a smiling but grim group of determined people. Following signs, we
found our way to the big black walnut tree that was the central area for the protest. There, about 20 feet up, was a small platform, about seven feet long and about two and a half feet wide, upon which
sat a thin and beautiful young woman. Dark hair, intense eyes, and a radiant smile–it was Julia Butterfly Hill. She had lived in a tall tree for two years, in an attempt to save it and all old-growth forests. Her legendary feat gave extra presence to what we were seeing and feeling. She was 14 days into a water-only fast, and she was glowing….
Then a blonde, tall, athletic woman began rappelling down from another, equally small, platform on the other side of the tree. It was Daryl Hannah, the actress from “Splash”, “Revenge of the 50 Foot Tall Woman”, “Clan of the Cave Bear”, and other Hollywood tales. Her commitment to the organic food and alternative energy movements had earned her much credibility in recent years, and we found ourselves
instantly admiring her for her courage and funky charm (see her website for more: www.dhlovelife.com).
We found our friend Leslie, who was excited to tell us that Joan Baez was returning in two days time. On Sunday there was to be a, perhaps last, farmers market, and an interfaith prayer service, and Joan was to come and sing. We were invited to stay. We accepted.
Activism was part of my early life, and I was involved in several large civil disobedience acts in the 60s: at the Pentagon in the fall of 1967, and again in Colorado over the next few years. Then my spiritual quest took over, and I became more inward in my work toward peace, justice, and change in human society. Being on the LA farm, and being part of this brought a new feeling, yet it had old echoes, to be suddenly part of an act of defiance toward the onward rolling bulldozers of greed and social injustice.
We stayed. We ate our meals with the families there, buying tortillas from them as they were hand made before our eyes, eating squash- blossom quesadillas, drinking tamarind juice, and savoring the
“nopalitas”, the delicious cactus salad grown only 30 feet from where we ate them. We helped Leslie to gather pieces of the story for her endless flood of emails and phone calls, we interviewed farmers and
their families and customers, and we did whatever we could to show our solidarity.
On Sunday morning, after Joan Baez had come, sung her exquisite songs (in Spanish), and the priests had said their prayers (the local Traditional Catholic–not Roman Catholic– priest, who leads services
in the area and who had been leading services on the farm for several years, pledged to go barefoot until justice was found, and cast his sandals to the base of the walnut tree), and everyone but those forty of us who were staying overnight were gone, we felt a feeling of dread overcoming us. We wanted to do something for those who remained and for those who would be coming back for the evening prayer vigil (each evening at 7:00 pm there was a candle-light march around the entire farm, led by several Aztec dancers).
We asked around and found that there was a power cord that could be used. Amanda and I set about finding a way to hang our fabric screen, and scrounged together the pieces we needed to put on a video showing. We were asked by Daryl what we were doing, and when she found out she asked if we could download a video she had made that was posted on her website and show it. We agreed, and made a dash to the nearest WiFi site we could find, downloaded her movie and returned.
We got the screen stretched, a barrel was found and a bit of board to balance the laptop, data projector, and hard drive. We set up the sound system, and Ole!, we had an instant movie theater. We had
arranged it so that Julia and Hannah could see the screen from their vantage points. The evening vigil marched around the block and everyone filed back in for the final phase, the prayers around the
tree. The candles were put in a circle at the base of the tree, solemn prayers were intoned, and everyone grew silent.
The wind was gentle that night, and the leaves overhead rustled quietly. The weathered faces of the campesinos and the passionate and tired faces of those who had come to support them were all glowing in
the candle light. A spokeswoman for the community introduced us and told everyone that we wanted to say something…..
Not expecting this, I stepped up and told the crowd that we had come from Australia, that we were working to bring the voice of another people, the people of the sea, to the attention of the big nations of the world. I told them that the dolphins too were in need of recognition, and that we were there in solidarity with them all. And that we wanted to show a little bit of film about the beauty of the dolphins and whales, to remind us all about the beauty of the world of nature.
The spokeswoman translated, and there were cheers. We had not anticipated such a response and were a bit overwhelmed. e showed about 40 minutes of beautiful footage, of dolphins dancing and caressing in the turquoise waters, whales rolling together with
their babies under glittering waves, and sometimes we overlaid these images with footage of forests and flowers, trees and rivers. We ended with Daryl’s video about the farm.
Afterward people came up to us with tears in their eyes, thanking us. For us, it was too little, it was only an offering of what we had to give. We treasure the thanks, and wish we could have given so much
Our itinerary soon took us away from our new friends, but our three days at South Central Farm will live in our hearts forever.
The Dolphin Embassy is a non-profit, educational organization incorporated in Australia, whose mission is to bring the voice of the dolphins– expressing the needs of dolphins, whales, and porpoises, the Cetacean Nation– to the community of nations. It conducts educational seminars, does presentations, and is currently preparing to join with a consortium of NGOs at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in making suggestions for improving the Earth Charter. We plan to participate in United Nations forums beginning in May of 2007.
We are currently on tour in the US, and will be taking part in a groundbreaking dolphin communication research project in Mexico in July of 2006.
Our website is www.dolphintale.com
Scott Taylor and Amanda Hain
Ambassadors, The Dolphin Embassy
All photos by The Dolphin Embassy