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Student display warns of estuary's demise under Bay Delta Conservation Plan
by Dan Bacher
Friday Oct 25th, 2013 9:17 AM
This "Dia de Los Muertos" display is one of the most creative ways yet used to depict what will happen to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta if Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels are constructed. Kudos to the students at Stockton's Kohl Open School and Restore the Delta for coming up with this superb display!

Student display warns of estuary's demise under Bay Delta Conservation Plan

by Dan Bacher

The celebration of the Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) in Mexico and the U.S. is held every November 1 to honor the dead - and point out, in a creative way, the current social, political and cultural struggles of the living.

It is in this tradition that students from grades four through eight at Stockton’s Kohl Open School have created a "Dia de Los Muertos" (Day of the Dead) altar (“ofrendas”) to honor the life of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta - and caution of its possible demise if the proposed diversion tunnels planned under the Bay Delta "Conservation" Plan are built and water is diverted under, rather than through the Delta. The altar is on display at the Mexican Heritage Center in Stockton.

A replica of La Llorona is placed in the center of this altar, or ofrenda, because her legend is a cautionary tale. La Llorona, in a fit of rage, turned against her children, threw them in the river, and the children disappeared down-stream, according to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.

When the Llorona realized what she had done, she reached out her arms to her children, but it was too late -- the children were gone. La Llorona walks up and down the banks of the river crying, “Where are my children?” .

"We must heed the warnings and not become the Llorona," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "We cannot throw the fresh water of the rivers away from the Delta. If we do, the Delta will become a salty cesspool and we will not be able to reach out and restore the damage we have done. We will be walking down the salty banks of the rivers looking for the native birds, fish, plants, and crops, crying, 'Where is the Delta?'"

Barrigan-Parrilla noted that the ofrenda has traditional elements, but the elements relate to the Delta:

"The Llorona is created out of flowerpots, which represent over a half million acres of rich fertile soils in the Delta used for growing a wide range of vegetables, grains, and fruit crops," she said. "Instead of the traditional Marigolds, there are flowerpots filled with crops that are grown in the Delta and the flowerpots are painted with skulls. Also, there are baskets filled with fruits grown in the Delta to represent Earth."

"The tablecloth is blue (representing the water) with fish prints. The Delta’s longfin smelt, salmon, and striped bass will be adversely affected by reduced freshwater flows and saltwater intrusion, so, the prints appear to be fading away," Barrigan-Parrilla noted.

There are two “Retablos” (the tri-folds) which depict the animals and vegetation which will be adversely affected by the diversion tunnels.

Ice Candles (fire) with holes symbolize the hollow space the tunnels will leave in the Delta estuary.

On the river (table cloth) there are wire skeletons portraying recreational activities that occur in the Delta such as fishing, skiing, and boating.

Typically, the salt on the ofrenda represents life. "However, in this case, the salt represents the intrusion of seawater into the Delta, which will eventually cause the death of the Delta," said Barrigan-Parrilla.

The “papel picado” (perforated paper) represents the wind and is attached to the hem of the tablecloth. "We used black, purple, and white. Black represents death, purple stands for grief, and white symbolizes the hope that the tunnels will not be built and that the Delta estuary will be saved," she stated.

"The giant fish is pleading for its life asking us to Save the Delta -- Stop the Tunnels!" she concluded.

In my opinion, this "Dia de Los Muertos" display is one of the most creative ways yet used to depict what will happen to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta if Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels are constructed. Kudos to the students at Stockton's Kohl Open School and Restore the Delta for coming up with this superb display!

For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org

In other Delta news, state officials announced that the release of BDCP environmental documents for public reviews, originally scheduled for mid-November, will be delayed until mid-December.

The recent federal government shutdown prevented the federal agencies that need to review the plan’s environmental documents from doing so.

“When you’re not making progress because the federal government has shut down, it adds to the length of time it takes to get the plan to the various milestones and that costs money,” Nancy Vogel with the California Department of Water Resources told Capital Public Radio. (http://www.capradio.org/articles/2013/10/23/federal-shutdown-delays-release-of-bay-delta-conservation-plan/)

The construction of Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and green sturgeon, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. It will take vast quantities of fertile Delta farmland out of agricultural production, under the guise of "habitat restoration," to facilitate the diversion of massive quantities of water to irrigate corporate mega-farms on toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
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Really good to see that the comming generations will protect the organic web-of-life.Unity for mother Earth.Friday Oct 25th, 2013 11:02 AM