Dave Daley stood recently on the edge of a barren ridge and bellowed out a guttural cry meant to call his cows home — if any remained alive after the North Complex wildfire decimated this national forest.
It was a long, mellifluous chant that sounded like “Come Boss,” taught to him by his own father and, he thinks, maybe originating with the genus of the species he hoped to find, Bos taurus, domesticated cattle.
When the sound finished bouncing off the far hills, miles across a plunging valley where the Feather River meandered into Lake Oroville, he waited in a silence so deep it can be made only by absence — of animals in underbrush, of leaves for wind to rustle, of life — hoping to hear the clanking of the bells each of his animals wears. But the silence held.
“You can replace a house,” he said, his voice hoarse and sorrow crinkling the sun-baked lines around his eyes, their color a pale green-brown that mirrored the scorched pine needles nearby. “You can’t replace this.”
Three weeks ago, a windy night turned the Bear fire into another California catastrophe, pulling embers off the ground and into the air, across the river, through treetops and down these mountains to the towns of Feather Falls and Berry Creek, where at least 15 people died. Here, in dense woods, Daley’s 400 head of cows, many with calves in tow, ranged free in summer, as they had done for the six generations his family has ranched on this land.
In about 1882, Daley’s family started running cows up into this high country, back before there was a National Forest system, and their brand has grandfathered access — though some environmentalists believe cattle have no place on public lands.
Now, only a bitter smell and ravens circling overhead could signal where many of their burned carcasses lay, blending into a dismal palette of ash and charcoaled timber. Though Daley and his family search every day for survivors, only about 130 have turned up alive — some so badly injured, with udders, hooves and even legs seared off, that they have to be put down. An additional 100 have been found dead.
Consumed by guilt that he couldn’t save them, and fear that some may still be suffering, he’s scouring what’s left of trails and tracks with names such as Lava Top and Bear Wallow that he probably knows better than any person alive, having roamed them since he was a boy. Friday was Day 22.
“The live ones are live and the dead ones are dead,” he said with cowboy pragmatism. “But the injured ones are missing.”
Daley’s fury and frustration is growing as the full brunt of the loss sets in.
This fire, he believes, and the dozens of others eating across the state could have been prevented — if it weren’t for the divisive politics that for decades have pitted agriculture against environmentalism, climate change against forest management, “enviros” against ranchers.
If nothing else comes of telling his story, he wants this: Compromise — a return to centrist politics lost in the current uproar.
“I am again angry at everyone and no one,” Daley wrote a few days after the fire, in a message his daughter Kate put on Facebook and which quickly went viral. “I am absolutely tired of politicians and politics, from both the left and the right. Shut up. You use tragedies to fuel agendas and raise money to feed egos. I am sick of it. And it plays out on social media and cable news with (distortion) and half-truths. ON BOTH SIDES. Washington, DC is 3000 miles away and is filled with lobbyists, consultants and regulators who wouldn’t know a sugar pine from a fir. Sacramento is 100 miles south and feels even more distant than DC.”
Though the majority of Californians agree that wildfires have worsened in recent years, they remain in political camps when it comes to why. Nine in 10 Democrats believe climate change is a major factor, according to a recent poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies. Only 19% of Republicans believe the same, and 46% don’t think it plays any part.
In Daley’s world of ranchers, climate change is largely viewed as nonsense, he said, though he’s had enough of that position. When an email screed against climate science popped up on his phone, he refused to read it. But he also is exasperated by ranchers being demonized, as he sees it, and forests subject to litigation and inaction until they are dangerously overgrown.
“Just maybe it’s both — horrible forest management and climate change,” he said, driving his Ford F350 on closed roads where hot spots still sent smoke curling upward and logs occasionally had to be chain-sawed away. A dirty straw cowboy hat was pulled low on his forehead. “The fringe is leading the discussion, and we are unwilling to take it back from either side.”
A Republican who is contemplating switching to no party preference — he hopes he will be less marginalized in a state dominated by Democrats — Daley sees himself and others who make a living off livestock as part of the solution for managing wildlands, people with real-world experience. A professor emeritus of animal science at Cal State Chico, he has a doctorate to back it up but still feels under attack in a dark blue state.
He doesn’t like everything President Trump says, but he appreciates his bent toward farmers, he said. He isn’t fond of everything Gov. Gavin Newsom does, either, but he’s raised money for him in the past.
Both, he said, can be “idiots.”
He’s made himself a political player, serving in leadership posts in the California Cattlemen’s Assn., the California Cattle Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. Such positions take him, with his bushy horseshoe mustache and gruff courtesies, to the halls of the state Legislature, as well as Congress.
“I can disagree with both sides, but if I’m not in the room, who cares?” he said. “I’ve had to work really hard to learn to be not … inflammatory and not angry, and it’s a constant effort.”
After all these decades of bringing Daley cows to this forest, he is heavy-hearted that his 3-month-old granddaughter Juniper — Juni for short — will never see it as he did. He fears that her father, his son Kyle, is inheriting a family tragedy instead of a tradition. He is grieving that his daughter Kate, a veterinarian, had to euthanize an injured cow, only to see its calf kicking inside her, unable to cut it out in time to save it.
“This is a legacy and a history and really very personal,” he said.
Once, about 6,500 cattle roamed this area, before it was federal land, along with 5,000 sheep, all herded on horseback. “Was it overgrazed?” Probably, Daley said. “Were there mega-fires? No.”
Those family ranches, with a few hundred cows each, are gone now, except for his.
“We ended up with the whole range,” he said. His family holds a permit for 400 pairs of cows and calves that roam over 90,000 acres of the Plumas National Forest and private lands owned by a timber company.
Daley says he is not giving up. But it won’t be the same. The cows won’t know the range, won’t know to come when he calls and, for decades to come, won’t wander nearly impenetrable thickets and meadows canopied by conifers.
Spring will bring grasses to graze — already ferns and shoots are pushing up, but winter rains may bring mudslides and Daley is uncertain if the fire will change his government permit. The herd wasn’t insured, and though there is a federal program that could pay for part of it, he doesn’t want handouts. But money is always an issue.
Friday, Daley found more dead cows, a half dozen that had sought false safety near a creek. He collected their trapezoidal bells, as he has done each time he finds a carcass. Some of the bells go back generations, the biggest ones reserved for special “ladies,” as Daley calls them, the old-hand cows who knew their way around this range after years of wandering.
But he hasn’t found living cows in days, and the only sound in the forest was the hollow knock of metal on metal from the bells he held.
The time to end the search was nearing, the scope of the ruin settling in so that he sometimes wakes at night, mad at himself — for sticking with this unsparing endeavor, for passing it on to his kids. But in daylight, it’s clear this is the only place for the Daleys.
Here is where Dave’s grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse down the road. Here is where he bumped along in the back of his grandfather’s pickup on cold fall mornings, hot chocolate his reward for taking part in the roundup. Here is where his children played in spring-fed meadows, when the grass was an electric yellow-green and the calves still stood on wobbly legs.
“This is a hard country to know,” he said. “Thirty years from now, Juni will be riding down a trail and probably find a bell.”
Source:- Los Angeles Times
LETTER: It's a myth that young people don't care about politics – North Shore News
We’ve all heard the myths that young people don’t care about politics. When post-secondary students come to the table to engage in political discourse and bring forward the concerns of our peers, we are often met with dismissive attitudes, and the assertion that if we don’t show up to the polls, we don’t get to criticize the way that things are.
These myths ignore some crucial evidence about students and our political engagement. Studies show that students are 15% more likely to vote than non-students in our respective age groups. In BC, the voter turnout amongst people aged 18-24 increased by 17.1% since 2009 according to Elections BC. The under 40 population now makes up the largest voting demographic, and our needs and concerns need to be fully considered by each party and every candidate this election. Students do care, and we do show up to vote. We are engaged in our communities, and are participating in an enormous undertaking by pursuing an education for the betterment of ourselves and our province.
Young people were the hardest hit by the pandemic in terms of job loss, meanwhile, many students were unable to get the financial assistance they needed through this economic downturn. Students are continuing to pursue their education in hopes of improving their situation and positively contribute to our communities, despite the fact that 75% of students have suffered significant financial hardship and will be impacted well beyond 2020.
We need to see our party leaders putting forward policies that not only consider the interests of students and how we have been uniquely impacted by the pandemic, but that properly recognize the diversity within the student experience. Students with dependents are navigating childcare and schooling during the pandemic while trying to complete their studies. Students living in remote areas that have poorer wifi connection are struggling to keep up with the demands on online learning. Student mental health was already declining, and is in serious jeopardy due to these exacerbating circumstances.
We call upon every candidate and each party leader to commit towards putting forward initiatives to support students as we move forward through the pandemic. The future is uncertain, but students are working hard to find solutions and support our recovery efforts. Students are not just the leaders of tomorrow, we are already working for a brighter future for our province.
What are your thoughts? Send us a letter via email by clicking here or post a comment below.
Managing a Team with Conflicting Political Views – Harvard Business Review
Politics around the world seem to be getting more and more divisive, and it’s impossible for the topic not to enter into our everyday conversations — including those that happen at work. When people on your team have differing views, those conversations can often get tense.
As a manager, what should you do? Should you ban political talk? What sort of ground rules can you lay down for these conversations? And how can you make sure you don’t harbor grudges against colleagues who don’t share your beliefs?
What the Experts Say
In a typical election years, managing a team with opposing political views is not easy or straightforward. But this polarized, pandemic-weary period has made the task even more complicated, says Tina Opie, associate professor in the management division at Babson College. In the U.S., the high-stakes presidential race, combined with the Covid-19 health emergency and continued social unrest over racial injustice, is “affecting employees as people, and it’s also affecting how they show up at work,” she says.
Even the most dedicated workers may find it difficult to compartmentalize their jobs from what’s happening in the political arena. “It’s on their minds, and since people spend the majority of their waking hours with their colleagues,” it’s inevitable that it will seep into their everyday conversations, Opie says.
Your challenge as a manager is to make sure that as passions run high and viewpoints clash, the workplace remains respectful and productive, says Emily Gregory, a vice president at VitalSmarts, the leadership training company. “A manager’s job is to create an environment where people feel safe to contribute their ideas and experiences,” she says. Here is some advice on how to do that.
Set an example.
Leading a team of people with dissimilar political stripes requires a “robust understanding and appreciation of different perspectives,” says Opie. In that way, it’s similar to managing a team comprised of employees from different cultures, races, genders, and backgrounds. Party allegiance is another element of diversity. A certain degree of conflict may be unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be uncivilized. You set the right tone and tenor for how your team members relate to one another.
Gregory recommends laying the groundwork during meetings by modeling inclusivity, encouraging divergent views, demonstrating respect for others, and showing a willingness to challenge your own assumptions — not just on political topics but about anything on which the team disagrees. Acknowledge the taxing political environment and appeal to your team members’ compassion. Remind them that even if “someone on the team is voting differently” from them, “they can still care for and deeply respect that person,” says Gregory.
Don’t ban political talk.
It may be tempting to make your workplace a politics-free zone in the interest of team cohesion and unity, but at a time when nearly 60% of American employees say they have engaged in political discussions at work, banning political talk is impractical and counterproductive, according to Gregory. “Putting down barriers about what people can and can’t say hurts team culture more than it builds it,” she says. “Topics shouldn’t be off-limits.”
Prohibiting political conversation could also backfire, says Opie. “Some people already feel they are rendered invisible because of what’s happening” on the national stage, and if you, the manager, make certain topics off limits, it could be viewed as sanctioning ignorance and even aggression. So many of today’s big issues concern social justice, equality, and “basic human rights — which are larger than politics.”
Don’t force it.
Of course, not everyone will be interested in having political discussions. Talking about politics or certain politicians “could be a trigger for some colleagues,” says Opie. Make clear that these conversations should only happen between team members who are willing and eager to participate, and no one should be dragged into the discussion, even if they were willing to talk about it previously. These interactions require curiosity and humility — and some days for whatever reason, some people might not be able to summon the interest and restraint, says Gregory. Make sure employees know they can delay the conversation indefinitely, too.
Establish rules of engagement.
Even with you modeling the right behavior, your team may not be skilled at having these types of conversations. “It isn’t your job to teach your team members about politics, but it is your job to teach them how to talk about tough issues,” says Gregory. Even in a poisonous political atmosphere, she believes it’s possible for people from opposite sides of the spectrum to have “positive, productive, and relationship-enhancing conversations.” Some ground rules are necessary, says Opie. “You don’t want employees to feel unsafe discussing certain topics.” As the manager you need to:
- Emphasize respect. “In functioning teams, there’s a baseline level of respect, but in high-charged conversations, people can sometimes lose sight of that,” says Gregory. As the manager, be proactive in maintaining courteous and considerate interactions, says Opie. Don’t tolerate name calling or interruptions. Keep an eye on flickering tempers. And be prepared to act if conversations cross the line between healthy debate to bitter acrimony.
- Promote self-reflection. Many discussions about political issues can go wrong because “we don’t bother trying to understand each other,” says Gregory. “We end up being more interested in proving the other person wrong than listening.” As the team leader, help your team members move past this inclination, says Opie. Inspire them to seek common ground. “Ask, ‘What do you find attractive about the other side’s position or argument? And what concerns you about your argument?’” Your aim, she says, is to “try to find some wiggle room.”
- Seek to understand. “Our political values are shaped by our life experiences,” says Gregory. In order for these conversations to be as constructive as possible, you and your team members must “seek to understand others’ experiences and what led them to their beliefs,” she says. Encourage vulnerability by asking your colleagues to “humanize the people they disagree with.” These conversations can sometimes be messy and uncomfortable, but they also often result in moments of enlightenment.
Call out inappropriate comments.
One of the biggest challenges arises when someone makes an insensitive remark or says something antithetical to the values of your team culture and organization, says Opie. Whatever you do, don’t ignore it. As the leader, “speak up and take a stand,” she says. Gregory concurs. You need to “signal to the group that the comment was inappropriate,” and follow up individually with the person who said it so you don’t give tacit permission for people to speak that way. While it may sound harsh, it’s important you make clear that what they said was offensive and hurtful. Gregory suggests talking to the employee in private and saying something like, “Our organization values diversity and inclusion, and we are going to promote and develop people in alignment with those values. Your comments [about a certain political topic] makes me question whether you have the competencies needed for growth in this organization.”
Talk one on one.
Managers also need to be thoughtful about how the volatile political climate is affecting their employees — particularly on teams where political allegiances vary. The Covid era has made work a lonely place, says Opie. And if you’re in the political minority, the experience is all the more isolating. “If your colleague is feeling upset about the [decision by a grand jury not to charge any police officers with killing Breonna Taylor] and no one brings it up, she might feel ignored. She might wonder, ‘Does anyone care? Do they understand?’ As a manager, you need to bridge that gap,” she says. Focus on connecting with and caring for your employees. Opie suggests you ask, “How can I help you feel heard?” Your goal is to reach out and demonstrate that you “recognize your employees as human beings.”
Foster open-mindedness in your team…
“We are living in self-reinforcing echo chambers,” says Gregory, where we often imagine that others see the world precisely as we do. As a result, many of us make incorrect assumptions about others’ political leanings. The risk is that we end up alienating people because they hold a different view. You need to nurture open-mindedness and urge your team not to jump to conclusions. Remind colleagues that working side-by-side with someone who sees things differently can often be a boon to personal growth. “When we start to disengage with people — when we say, ‘I choose not to have relationships with people who believe X’ — we forego the opportunity to learn about how other people think and to influence them,” says Gregory.
… and hold yourself to the same standard.
Talking about your political views with a team member is complicated by the power dynamic: You’re their boss. Opie recommends “treading carefully.” In the case where a direct report doesn’t share your political inclinations, you mustn’t abuse your position by holding their views against them even on a subconscious level. “You don’t want them to feel that they’re going to be negatively evaluated” due to your different stances, she says. Try to keep an open mind, adds Gregory. “Acknowledge that other people can have different viewpoints” and still be decent human beings, she says. “If you can’t see shades of gray, you’re going to have a hard time being a manager.”
Seek outside advice.
It’s not easy to “develop and maintain a cohesive workplace” amidst a hyper-partisan political atmosphere, says Opie. There’s no shame in asking for help. She recommends “connecting with other leaders and managers to learn about how they’re handling these heated situations.” They may offer advice, insight, and ideas that hadn’t occurred to you. Even after Nov. 3, the challenges of running a team with divergent views are likely to remain. “Regardless of who wins, organizations need to think about how they are proactively developing guidelines and discussions for how employees debrief” and process the election, Opie says. “In this charged climate, it will be necessary.”
Principles to Remember
- Be a good role model. Embrace inclusivity, demonstrate respect for divergent views, and be willing to challenge your assumptions.
- Encourage your team members to seek to understand others’ experiences and what lead them to their political beliefs.
- Tread carefully with direct reports whose politics differ from yours. You don’t want them to feel that they’re going to be negatively evaluated due to your differing stances.
- Ban political conversations. It’s impractical and counterproductive.
- Shy away from calling out inappropriate remarks. Otherwise you have given tacit permission for people to speak in insensitive ways.
- Lose sight of how this politically turbulent period is affecting your employees as people. Focus on connection. Ask, how can I help you feel heard?
Advice in Practice
Case Study #1: Establish ground rules for discussion; be open to others’ perspectives.
Over the course of her 25-year career, Susy Dunn has managed a number of teams that had divergent political views. For the most part, her employees have learned to agree to disagree.
“In the end, it’s all about handling conflict with respect and empathy,” says Susy, the chief people officer & chief of staff at Zapproved, which makes software for corporate legal departments. “It’s about how you step outside yourself to think about others.”
A recent experience stays with her. In 2018, Susy’s team — which is in charge of the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts — organized an event on racism and classism, at which Ijeoma Oluo, the author of the book, So, You Want to Talk about Race, spoke to employees. Many workers were enthralled and energized by the book’s ideas; they began sharing articles on white privilege and organizing discussion groups.
This year, as the Black Lives Matter movement and issues surrounding systemic racism became a focal point in the national dialogue, internal conversations around privilege started again. Some colleagues bristled. “Some stepped forward and said they felt uncomfortable and excluded,” says Susy. “They said they were being made to feel ashamed because they were white.”
Together with the company’s CEO, Susy met with employees to listen to their perspectives. “Our purpose was to bring people together and to create a safe space to have a difficult conversation.”
Susy’s team laid out the ground rules in line with the company’s values: Assume good intent, listen with empathy and curiosity, show respect, and be thoughtful. If things got heated, they would pause and regroup for another time.
Employees told personal stories about their lives and explained their perspectives. People were open and honest.
When it came time for the CEO and Susy to speak, their message was clear and unapologetic: “If we are going to be asked to prioritize between the comfort of the dominant group over the justice of a marginalized group, we will select the justice of the marginalized group.”
It was an “aha moment” for everyone, she says. “People got it.”
But Susy also says she recognizes that those who felt uncomfortable had a point, too. “They said they wanted to tune out politics and focus on their work,” she says. “We realize that people need to be able to opt in to certain conversations.”
To that end, they created Slack channels dedicated to diversity and equity content. But employees who don’t want to be a part of the dialogue, doing have to join in.
Susy says she is proud of how the team came together. “It was a tough but constructive conversation.”
Case Study #2: Check in with employees one on one and don’t make assumptions about how they lean.
Aimee Pedretti, a senior manager at Mammoth HR, vividly recalls how the results of the 2016 presidential election played out in her office.
“The morning after, you could feel the tension,” she says. “Some people were upset and crying, and there were others who, even if they were not expressing jubilation, it was clear they were satisfied with the outcome.”
For Aimee, the experience was eye-opening. While she hadn’t necessarily talked politics with each and every one of her colleagues, she had assumed that most people at her company, headquartered in Portland, OR, held similar political values. “I realized the importance of not making assumptions about people’s opinions,” she says. “Not everyone shared the same political beliefs.”
She remembers taking solace from the company’s leadership. “Things were heated, and emotions were running high — similar to what’s happening today,” she says. “When I think back on those days, I remember messaging from our CEO. He acknowledged that it was pivotal moment for all Americans. It was comforting to feel that management cared about how the election was affecting us.”
The CEO also reminded the team of its company values regarding equality and inclusion. “That really helped level-set us and bring us back to reality: Even if we didn’t all see eye-to-eye on politics, we were all committed to the same purpose and organizational principles.”
Today, amidst another turbulent political season, that lesson has served her well. Aimee says she is “focused on her team’s wellbeing,” and regularly checks in with employees one-on-one to make sure they’re coping alright.
“Things are so divisive right now outside of work,” she says. “As a leader, it’s important to acknowledge there is a lot of fear and distress about the election regardless of which political party you belong to.”
She says she’s also more sensitive about the way she engages with colleagues in conversations about politics — and no longer makes assumptions about how they lean. She tries to lead by example: She demonstrates respect for others’ opinions and an openness to different perspectives. “Managers need to make sure their people feel safe and respected,” she says. “No one should have to stifle who they are.”
Recently, Aimee gathered that she holds very different views from some of her colleagues. “In these cases, it’s important to separate the person from their political positions,” she says. “Managers need to be transparent about how they’re assigning work, how they’re promoting people, and how they’re treating people.”
Sometimes, she says, it’s easier to engage on neutral topics like pets and hobbies. “There’s no need to force a political conversation.”
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