Culture vulture

Spring into action
The economy and the forces that drive and compel it are about as comprehensible to Culture Vulture as gravity or electromagnetic energy: I know these things exist, but I’ve never been given a truly satisfactory explanation for how or why: So we can sit around contemplating the beauty and mystery of our own existence? That would be just dandy if the natural laws that confine us to limited actions and finite choices within the physical plane didn’t also ensure the apparent inevitability of economic conflict and grievous social injustice.

Some might argue that society is a collective human effort to shield each other from the harsh realities of being alive. But those who make that argument might be challenged by having to admit how poorly sheltered so many members of society are, and how content some other members of society are to balance their own comforts on the backs of those who are less economically privileged. One need only slip into a pair of bargain sneakers or jeans to realize how easy it is to get comfortable exploiting cheap labor.

And, yes, Culture Vulture is guilty as charged, and more than willing to admit that talk is cheap. Socially conscious action, on the other hand, requires an expenditure of effort, or at least money.

Which brings us to the topic of nonprofit organizations. In Culture Vulture’s ideal world, there would be no necessity for nonprofits, because there would be no such thing as profits. Government and commerce would exist only to ensure that every citizen was supplied with the basic necessities: clean air and water, food, education, beneficial work, proper health care and congenial companionship. All of humanity’s efforts would be focused on enhancing our environment for the benefit of each individual equally.

Again, Culture Vulture has no problem admitting that such a vision of society is hopelessly naïve and based on a faith in human goodness that has only the most tenuous relationship to current or historical social realities. But we’re not without hope. As outlined on page 32, the nonprofit Chico Peace and Justice Center is making a valiant effort to raise awareness about the suffering caused by the war in Iraq. It needs your help.

Another nonprofit, the Chico Creek Nature Center, is currently collecting funds to expand its educational facilities and programs in Bidwell Park. Master-fundraiser Tovey Giezentanner, working closely with CCNC executive director Tom Haithcock, has helped the Nature Center set up an online program selling personalized, engraved bricks that will be used to pave the front entrance walkway of the proposed new building. For a donation of $150-$350 you, your organization or business, your band or your secret identity can have a brick engraved with the name of your choice and a short, “family-appropriate” message placed at this crucial park facility for eternity or the life of the brick (or park), whichever comes first.

For full details, or to simply buy your brick, visit, or stop by the Chico Creek Nature Center at 1968 E. Eighth Street. It’s a wonderful place, well worth checking out and supporting.

Say hi to Gruk the crow while you’re there.