Lake County, California – March 24, 2020 [Second Edition]
THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS . . . After the American genocide of “indigenous” peoples, the creation of an order imbued with state and federal agency authorities embodied the ambitions of hardy “pioneers,” plunderers of vast natural resources emerged from the continental clash with tectonic plates pushing the northern coastal counties upwards from a dank and sweltering sea bed rich with minerals and ripe with vegetation — theirs for the taking.
Formidable terrain isolated a basin and plain wherein the second oldest natural lake in the world provided an abundance of wildlife and water supplies so amply hospitable that seekers of healing “re-creation” in its many forms found opportunities to add their considerable energies to the core population of ranchers and farmers and hardscrabble families in its valleys and foothills.
In establishing its jurisdictional boundaries, the northern half of the county was carved away from neighboring Mendocino County, the southern half broken away from wealthy Napa County. Mid-nineteenth century mining spurred by the gold rush matured into less glamorous but equally lucrative enterprises nourishing the social aspirations of civic minded menfolk grasping the powers of municipal operations and the benefits of fraternal franchises to the formation of small towns and seats of governance.
Lake County’s most valuable resource — water — sustains the lives and economies of six surrounding counties, following a series of “done deals” resulting in the further isolation of its inhabitants from peer participation in hierarchies of upper management overseeing the region, the state, and the nation.
Left to their own devices, the local land baronage claimed their own “manifest destinies” as the rulers of domesticated civil services, defining terms and conditions favorable to “managed growth” — through the establishment of land use and zoning ordinances, permitting and planning, and attraction of gamblers from far and wide, betting on the come promised by cheap development practices and leissez-faire public officials.
The fabric of society institutionalized by “European settlers” and imported cultural systems, reworked to western wilderness survival standards and simulations of refinement and polity, laid the foundations of today’s inheritance: the bitter dregs of environmental degradation, petty partisan politics, and chronic poverty. With all the means and ways afforded by central government, dedication and devotion of good civil servants, and close kinships inherent in lineage and lines of authority, how did THAT happen?