July 19-25, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

Unhappy with Campers

As they have done for some 117 years, roughly 2,500 to 3,000 corporate, banking, military and political leaders are already romping in the woods at the 2,000-acre Bohemian Grove in Monte Rio. They're romping nude, they're romping dressed as women and they're romping unattended by the checks and balances we like to think best serves our government. Opponents of this exclusive all-male encampment contend that it allows for secretive agreements that result in lasting global impacts. Former secretary of state Colin Powell, for example, will lead a lakeside chat on the topic "From Battlefields to Playing Fields--Economics, Energy and Education." Examples of other topics are "America in a New World" by Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria and "Energy, CO² and Climate Change" by Lynn Orr, director of Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project. These sound innocuous, but they're not, says activist Mary Moore of the Bohemian Grove Action Network. "Orr is one of the main advocates to bringing back nuclear power as the solution to global warming," she explains. Antinuclear activists began Bohemian Grove demonstrations in 1980; 26 years later, the topic is once again being discussed within the extremely private confines of the Grove. This year's protest is scheduled for the second weekend, when many of the most powerful men choose to attend. The protest starts at 1pm on Saturday, July 22, in the main Monte Rio parking lot, with a march to the Grove gates at 2pm. At 4pm participants will celebrate in the Monte Rio amphitheater with music, food and a chance to exchange information with like-minded folks. "Just as they're networking [in the Bohemian Grove] to make themselves stronger, we should network also," Moore asserts. For more information, call Moore at 707.874.2248 or visit

Gay Retirees

Plans to create a 148-unit retirement housing complex for gays and lesbians on 10 acres in the Fountaingrove area passed another hurdle last week when the Santa Rosa Planning Commission approved a permit to build an office and model home. The permit for this first stage of the $75 million project was initially granted by city staff, but that decision was appealed by the Fountaingrove Ranch Master Homeowners Association, which claimed the land is too close to an earthquake fault line. It was standing-room-only at last week's planning commission meeting, and many of the speakers said they were in favor of the project. Several suggested that opposition was rooted more in homophobia than in genuine earthquake concerns. Construction of the office and model home can now begin. "We're obviously very excited to get started," says project partner Bill Mabry. The application for the entire project is being processed, Mabry says, and continued opposition is expected.

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