Seadrift gated community

What could make the Seadrift community of Stinson Beach empathetic enough to care about outsiders — and the welfare of townspeople beyond its gates?

Nicholas Kristof, writing in a late January column in The New York Times titled ‘How Do We Increase Empathy?’, which somehow escaped our notice at the time — has sent us on a break from Stinson Beach’s sanitation policy dilemmas to thinking, instead, about money, psychology, and the transformative power of art critical of social behaviour. His column said:

[W]ealth may impede empathy. … [H]eart rates of wealthier research subjects are less affected when they watch a video of children with cancer. …


Fine art that smells follows a bizarre legal battle in The New York Times science pages … but could a real-life sewage argument in Stinson Beach be weirder yet?

… Perhaps the unquestionably original Belgian multi-media specialist, Peter De Cupere, should be given a special commission for one of his olfactory creations — for a Stinson Beach public art installation?

Nothing about his work makes less than perfect sense to us, even if it is superficially bizarre — and certainly pioneering. ‘When you walk into an installation with scent, you cannot hide,’ he told The New York Times. ‘Your body starts to react.’

Exactly. Naming this site ‘Pooh!’ required no cogitation whatsoever. The title arrived in a flash — as if in a feat of automatic writing transmitted directly from nose to typing fingers.

London’s Old Father Thames — a spiritual ancestor of today’s opponents of safe public sewers for the California coast — stars in a new book

‘… So you get water closets coming in and they’re connected to cesspools and they don’t really fit because of the extra large volume of flushing water. You get these surges of waste and dump and smell, and people start getting very concerned about what’s in their cesspools because of the stink that’s rising from them. …

The idea that this sort of stench is coming into the house, seeping through the house and possibly bringing in diseases like cholera or typhoid … is actually one of the great driving forces of sanitary reform in the 19th century.’

Wanted: a Tripadvisor equivalent for reviewing landlords – not just in California’s Stinson Beach

What renters everywhere need is an idea proposed in Britain three years ago by a government watchdog, Consumer Focus, for a renters’ equivalent of the indispensable Tripadvisor site on which travellers post detailed reviews of hotels all over the world. As this statutory body — formed by the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act of 2007 – has emphasised, there is a massive imbalance in information-seeking power that hugely favours landlords.

Why do householders in the Seadrift Association of Marin – one of America’s richest counties – choose to live with hazardous ‘Third World’ sewage disposal systems?

We know how it worries environmentalists. What would Dayo Olopade – a Knight Law & Media Scholar at Yale and highly-praised Nigerian-American author – think of the aggressive, polluting and potentially homicidal anti-development strategy of Stinson Beach? In saying homicidal,… Read More ›