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The Living New Deal


A map showcases the murals, architecture and public works
that put people to work and transformed San Francisco.

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Three California parks for your bucket List…


The drive on California Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast is indisputably one for the bucket list. When you’re ready to stretch your legs, pull over at Andrew Molera State Park, 20 miles south of Carmel. The 4,800-acre park is the largest state park on the Big Sur coast. Twenty miles of hiking trails wend around redwood groves, meadows and overlooks. Watch for California condors and migrating whales.

HIDDEN GEMS: The redwood Cooper Cabin, built in 1861 is the oldest structure in Big Sur. Best hiked in morning or evening, the East Molera Trail skirts the ridge for 2.5 miles to a grove of giant redwoods where California condors sometimes roost. The Point Sur Lighthouse built in 1889 Is a National Historic Landmark. The light station still serves as beacon for ships. Tours are available.

HIGHLIGHTS: Migrating Monarch butterflies rest in the park’s eucalyptus trees in winter. California Gray whales pass by in spring and fall. Birders flock to the park to look for rare birds in winter. Dangle your feet in the Big Sur River in summer.

VISITOR CENTER: Exhibits at the Ventana Wildlife Society’s Discovery Center describe the effort to reintroduce the California condor to the wild.

TRAILS: The mile-long Beach Trail leads to the mouth of the Big Sur River—a birding hot spot! From there, the Headlands Trail to Molera Point offers sweeping views of the coast. Creamery Meadow is a good place to see wildlife, particularly at night. Watch for whales, dolphins and sea otters from Cooper Point.

Camping is first come-first, first-served at a walk-in campground about half-mile from the parking area has 24 campsites.

For more Information:
831 667-2315



HIGHLIGHTS: Henry W. Coe State Park is an hour’s drive—and a world away—from bustling San Jose. The landscape looks much as it did when explorer Juan Bautista de Anza traversed it in 1775. The park has grown, ranch-by-ranch, to become California’s second-largest state park.

With 250 miles of trails and dirt roads, the 87,000-acre park is a bonanza for hikers, campers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

HIDDEN GEMS: China Hole, a 20-foot-long swimming hole in Coyote Creek, is a favorite hiking destination in spring and early summer. There’s a small, sandy beach and flat rocks for picnicking and sunbathing. The trail continues past an old resort that in its heyday offered guest cabins and a dance pavilion.

HIGHLIGHTS: Coe has well over 200 miles of roads and trails for hikers and mountain bikers. Mountain bikers here refer to “The Coe Factor”— to rate the difficulty of a trail. The 3.7-mile-long Springs-and-Forest Trail Loop from the headquarters is a favorite day hike. The popular Flat Frog Trail Loop is resplendent with wildflowers in spring. There’s a challenging 9.4-mile loop via the Jim Donnelly Trail to Willson Peak that rewards hikers with views to Monterey Bay. From the Dowdy entrance, the 2-mile Burra Burra Peak Loop features the park’s only volcano—now extinct.

The Pine Ridge Association holds outings and special events throughout the year including the annual Mother’s Day Breakfast, held at a beautiful location a short distance into the backcountry. The annual Tarantula Fest and BBQ, held each October, features live music and eight-legged guests-of-honor. Families can experience ranch life firsthand on Ranch Days. Guided wildflower walks take place in spring and early summer.

Backpacking is first-come, first served. The drive-in Coe Headquarters campground has 19 campsites and there also are 12 hike-in group campsites. For campground reservations: 800 444-7275 to

For more information:
Pine Ridge Association 408 782-9241



The 1000-acre Standish Hickey Recreation Area near Leggett is the gateway to tall tree country. Ten miles of hiking trails range from easy to challenging. The Peg House, across from the park entrance, is a popular restaurant and grocery store that serves as the park’s visitor center. There’s live music all summer.

A historic Redwood Campground, built in the 1920s, recently re-opened. Several trails, including a 2-mile loop, pass the Captain Myles Standish tree—a 225-foot-high redwood believed to be 1,200 years old! The strenuous, 6-mile Mill Creek loop leads past a historic mill. The Grove Trail leads to virgin redwoods and is ADA-compliant.

HIDDEN GEMS: The self-guided 1.7-mile Taber Nature Trail on the east side of Highway 101 wends through giant redwoods and fern-filled ravines.

Smyth Grove on Highway 101, 1.5 miles north of Standish Hickey, features a popular day-use swimming hole on the Eel River, set amidst giant redwoods.

The Avenue of the Giants, about 23 miles north of the park, is a stunning 31-mile drive through the largest stands of virgin redwoods in the world.

HIGHLIGHTS: The Hickey Fest draws indy music fans during summer solstice weekend. The ticket price includes 3-days of music and camping fees at the park. 334-6286

There’s a sandy beach at Hickey Campground, and an amphitheater where interpretive talks take place in summer.

Rock Creek Campground is reserved for carless campers.

For Information and reservations:
707 925-6482

“The Roosevelts” Premieres on PBS

Ken Burns’s new documentary, “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,” premieres on PBS on Sunday, September 14 and runs consecutive nights through September 20. The 7-part series interweaves the stories of Theodore, Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

“The Rising Road, 1933-1939,” which airs on Thursday, September 18, focuses on the New Deal, FDR’s massive response to the Great Depression that put millions of people back to work and transformed the relationship of Americans to their government.

Years in the making, “The Roosevelts” chronicles the relationships and personal struggles that shaped the lives of arguably the most influential family in American history. Their legacy includes the National Parks, the Panama Canal, the New Deal, and victory in World War II, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s work for civil and human rights in the postwar years following FDR’s death.

Ken Burns’s award-winning documentaries include the Civil War, Jazz, Prohibition, Baseball, the Dust Bowl, and National Parks. Burns’s co-writer on “The Roosevelts,” Geoffrey C. Ward, is an authority on FDR, an interest that grew, in part, from the fact that Ward, like FDR, had polio.

“The Roosevelts have played significant roles in other stories we’ve told before, from the National Parks to World War II,” says Burns. “It’s impossible, in fact, to visit many parts of the American experience without encountering their presence.”

“They each shared a passionate belief that America is at its strongest when everyone has an equal chance. And on a personal level, they each struggled to overcome their own fears while maintaining a public face of courage.”

Inequality for All


Robert Reich, the ubiquitous economist and Living New Deal’s Advisory Board member, is taking his message of economic inequality to the masses.  Reich, a UC Berkeley professor and a prolific author, is also an accidental movie star. His documentary “Inequality for All” sounds the alarm about the country’s widening economic gap– its causes, implications, and what we can do about it.

“Inequality for All” opened on September 27 and is showing in theaters nationwide. Like Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film about global warming, Reich’s film offers an engaging lecture. This time the “inconvenient truth” is the evaporating prosperity of the American middle class. Reich answers why since the 1980s Americans that have jobs are working more and earning less.

Reich was U.S. Labor Secretary in the Clinton administration, during which time unemployment in the U.S. dropped to the lowest level in thirty years.

Reich and Bill Clinton met when they were Rhodes scholars at Oxford University. Today Reich is a road warrior, traveling nearly non-stop and drawing crowds and media attention wherever “Inequality for All” is playing.

The film created a buzz when it premiered at the star-studded Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. Since then, Reich has left no media stone unturned. He writes a daily blog, maintains a popular website, uploads his talks to YouTube, and has a vast Facebook following.

He has recently published op-eds in The New York Times and Salon. “Inequality for All” has been reviewed in such divergent publications as the Huffington Post, the Hollywood Reporter, and the Salt Lake City Tribune. Reich has appeared on the PBS News Hour, CNN, The Daily Show, Bill Moyers, and Democracy Now. Conservative talk show hosts like Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly regularly rail against Reich, but refuse to debate him.

Either way, Reich is reaching the choir and beyond. His message: Inequality is bad for everyone. Let’s change it.

For Sale: America’s Historic Post Offices


 Citizens protest at the Downtown Berkeley Main Post Office

Citizens protest at the Downtown Berkeley Post Office.

Despite growing public protest, the U.S. Postal Service is moving apace to sell the public’s historic post offices.

This summer, the Postal Service added four more post offices on the National Register of Historic Places to its “For Sale” list: California’s La Jolla Wall Street Post Office, built in 1935; New York City’s Old Chelsea Station Post Office and the Bronx General Post Office both built in 1937; and the Main Downtown Post Office, in Berkeley, California, which, in spite of a year long campaign to keep the century-old building in the public domain, was recently slated for sale.

Recently, the beautiful and historic post office in Venice, California was sold to a movie producer.  Another Hollywood movie maker is said to be interested in purchasing the Santa Monica, California, post office, which closed in June.

Save The Santa Monica Main Post Office

The Art Deco Moderne Santa Monica, California, Post Office, is up for sale.

Like many other endangered post offices, these buildings contain unique New Deal artworks.

Last week,  the California Legislature passed a resolution urging Congress to enact the Postal Protection Service Act of 2013. The act would repeal the mandate Congress adopted in 2006 requiring the Postal Service to prefund 75 years worth of  retiree health benefits over 10 years–essentially driving the postal service toward bankruptcy.  Sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders-VT and Rep. Peter DeFazio-OR, the Postal Protection Service Act would allow the USPS to provide new services, prohibit cuts to Saturday service, and keep historic post offices open.

The thirteen murals in the Bronx Post Office created by New Deal artists Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson are considered masterpieces.The thirteen murals in the Bronx Post Office created by New Deal artists Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson are considered masterpieces. The post office is for sale.

During the 1930s the federal government put thousands of people to work building the nation’s postal system.  In big cities and small towns alike, New Deal post offices are among the most artful, architecturally distinguished, and beloved buildings.“Apparently the country is done with that kind of idealism,” notes Gray Brechin, geographer and Living New Deal Project scholar, “Rather than building beautiful public places, the federal government is selling them off.”

Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places are afforded some protection—their exterior must be preserved. But once sold the buildings are often gutted. In at least one case, a 1937 post office in Virginia Beach, Virginia was demolished to make way for a Walgreen’s.

The National Historic Preservation Act ensures public access to public artwork, but when post offices are sold the murals and sculptures often are removed to storage. Even when the art remains in place, it’s up to the new owners whether the public may view it.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act which Congress adopted in 2006 represents a trend toward privatizing the public domain–from roads, schools, fire and police services to prisons and parks.  The act is directly responsible for $4 out of every $5 in Postal Service debt—forcing the Postal Service to cut services and sell many of its most valuable properties.

CB Richard Ellis, a giant commercial real estate firm, holds the exclusive contract to sell postal properties worth billions. CB Richard Ellis’ chairman is Richard Blum, a University of California Regent and the husband of California Senator Dianne Feinstein.  So far, the press has shown no interest in investigating how that contract was awarded, nor its terms.

For a list of endangered post offices go to:




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