My name is Josef Gavette, and I am a Buffalo Field Campaign volunteer. This year I was asked by campaign coordinator and co-founder Mike Mease to help on BFC’s 2017 West Coast Road Show. During the months of September and October we traveled through Idaho and the whole west coast, doing presentations on the 20-year history of the Buffalo field campaigns efforts to protect the last wild bison. Our shows consisted of Mike speaking and showing video, accompanied by Mignon Geli’s wonderful flute music, myself working the merchandise/information table, and some special local guests along the way. I am extremely grateful that I was chosen to be on this trip to help the campaign. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget.
Never in my life have I felt so welcomed by people I had never met before. Everywhere we went we were welcomed with open arms and tremendous hospitality. We stayed as guests in people’s homes and were helped by countless people along the way. I don’t think my writing abilities will be sufficient enough to show how grateful the Campaign and I are to all these people who helped us spread the word about the buffalo’s mistreatment, and the actions we take as a group to help stop it. I will do my best to include everyone from along our journey in this recap and I hope this story can serve as a sincere thank you to everyone who helped make this happen.
We started this trip in Boise, Idaho, home of many supporters of BFC including the campaigns new executive director Ken Cole. We did this first show at the Idaho Outdoor Associations hall. Provided to us through the generosity of Frank Burke, Ray Madril, and all of the Idaho Outdoor Associations members. During our time in Boise we were able to stay with Ken and his wife. Before the show two previous volunteers Noah and Demi invited us to their home for a wonderful dinner. During the show, I was lucky enough to see Hannah and Nat, friends from when I first volunteered at camp.
Our next event was held in Moscow, Idaho at Mikey’s Gyros in downtown Moscow. This presentation was sponsored by Friends of the Clearwater a non-profit organization protecting Idaho’s Clearwater bioregion and biodiversity. Brett Haverstick and Ashley Lipscomb from Friends of the Clearwater were our main support for this show. They interviewed us on their radio show, Wild Clearwater Country on KRFP, before the presentation. I had never been to a radio studio before so it was pretty exciting for me. That night we stayed at Brett’s house in Moscow and had a little gathering of folks from the event and other wildlife supporters from the area.
From Moscow we headed to Tulalip, Washington where we did a show at the Hibulb Cultural Center. The Hibulb Cultural Center is located on the Tulalip reservation it is a cultural center, natural history preserve, and archaeological repository. It features many exhibits that teach about the history and culture of their people. This venue was fascinating to me and was one of my favorite venues we had the pleasure of visiting. Jennifer Fuentes, her daughter Ayanna, and her mother Barbra helped put this show on, along with the staff at the cultural center. They were extremely courteous people we were each gifted a blanket from the gift shop. And, although Jennifer had to be away during our visit, we were still welcome guests in her home.
Our next stop was Seattle, Washington. Before our event we managed to have some free time. We took this opportunity to do some adventuring. The first thing we did was go and see Mike’s friend Tim, at the Pearl Jam Ten Club. We then headed down town to check in at the Patagonia store where our show was held that night. We checked in, found parking, and with still just a little more time to kill, we decided to go to the Olympic Sculpture Park. The staff at Patagonia worked extremely hard to put this event on, and was extremely nice and helpful. That night we stayed with Marc Ogren at his home. Marc is a car enthusiast and it was really cool to see his projects he had going. All in all, it was a pretty great day!
After Seattle, we headed to Whidbey Island where we had two shows at the Langley Whale Center. The Langley whale center is a project of the Orca Network a non-profit organization helping raise awareness for the whales of the Pacific Northwest, and the importance of providing them healthy and safe habitats. Susan and Wendy of the Orca Network, along with their many volunteers, and Lisa from the Calyx Community Art School sponsored our presentations. The first event was a children’s event, and our second was the normal presentation. During both these events, two musicians from the area accompanied Mike and Mignon. The first musician was twelve-year-old Audrianne. She performed two songs that she wrote about the buffalo that she was inspired to write after visiting West Yellowstone. The other musician who performed was Dana Lyons, an environmental activist and folk musician who plays songs that help raise awareness for many issues our world faces. After our show, we were blessed enough to stay in Lisa and Dana’s guest house where we had one of our most relaxing couple of nights.
From Whidbey, we headed to Newport Oregon. In Newport, we did a show at the Newport Visual Arts Center. Tom Webb and Terri Waldron made this show possible. They both helped by paying for the room we had at the Visual Arts Center, and Terri let us stay at her home in Newport. After the show in Newport, the next day, we headed up the coast to Gleneden Beach to do a presentation for the Oregon Coast Learning Institute a group of retired and semi-retired Oregon Coast residents interested in furthering their quest for knowledge through seminars and speaking events such as ours. Marc Marcs lead scientist for the Shark Protection and Preservation Association, a Buffalo Field Campaign supporter, and the staff at Oregon Coast Learning institute organized this presentation.
The next stop we had was Portland. This was my first time back to Portland since I was about nine years old. It was really awesome to be back in a place I had not been to in so many years. We did two events in Portland. The first one was at the Bison Coffee House, a family run coffee house owned Loretta Guzman a Portland native and member of the Shoshone Bannock Tribe of Fort Hall, Idaho. This coffee house was amazing. They had delicious soup and pastries that I was lucky enough to try. Our next Portland show was at the Patagonia store on Burnside St., and that show was a great success. The staff at the store worked really hard to put it on and local comedian Gilbert Brown opened it with a couple jokes. Dewey Tripp, a friend of the Campaign, hosted us at her house for the time we stayed in Portland. I had a great time putting out newsletters with Dewey, seeing sights around town that I remembered from my childhood.
Our next event was at Sun Spirit Farm in Williams, Oregon. This benefit was our biggest show of the trip. Farm owners, Brian Hannagan and Michelle Bienick, did a great job of putting this show on. There was food, drinks and many awesome bands that performed. They set up a huge silent auction with donations from countless businesses around their community. Many of the interns from Sun Spirit volunteered at the event to help make it happen and I was shocked at how many people showed up, especially considering the size of their town.
Our next event was held in Ashland, Oregon. We did our presentation at The Stone House home to a private concert series hosted by Jeff Pevar and Inger Jorgensen. They host private concerts at their home in Ashland. Jeff is a world-renowned musician and has done work with artists such as Crosby, Stills, & Nash, The Ray Charles Orchestra, and James Taylor, just to name a few. The music at this show was amazing. Jeff performed along with singer songwriter Stephanie Anne Johnson and Inger. This was one of my favorite shows we did. Our presence was made possible by Phoenix Sigalove, a local Ashland musician and long-time Buffalo Field Campaign supporter.
We then headed to Cave Junction, Oregon. This was our last show in Oregon before we headed to California. We stayed with Doug and Frog, long-term activists and BFC supporters, and did the show in their home. We had a great time in Cave Junction. We met a lot of great young activists from Earth First! I hope to one day see these folks again. They were some of the most interesting people I have had the pleasure of meting
The first stop in California we made was in Arcata. We did the presentation in the Kate Buchanan room at the Humboldt State University Campus. HSU sociology professor Tony Silvaggio got the room for us, and with the help of Greta (Grizz) de la Montagne we were able to do the show with great success. Greta is the founder of the MASHH (Medicine for All Seeking Health & Healing) Clinic, an all-volunteer collective based in Northern California and Oregon. Their group is dedicated to providing accessible, sustainable, and affordable natural medicine to all people but especially those engaged in environmental and social justice.
The second stop we had in California was the Mendocino Coast the area where I was born and raised, and the place I call home. We did two shows in Mendocino County, one at the Caspar Community center and one at the Manchester Elementary School. The event in Caspar was organized and sponsored by my mother Lara Anderson. She arranged for Tofu Sue’s Kitchen to perform, a local band comprised of relatives and dear friends of mine. While in Caspar, we stayed with Sascha Alexander, a local musician and activist. The next day was the show we did at Manchester school. My Aunt Avis is a teacher at Manchester elementary. This was the third time she arranged for the BFC to speak to her students.
Our next stop was in Berkley. While in Berkley we did two interviews. The first was for the Terra Verde Radio show on KPFA, hosted by Gray Hughes, and the second was a video interview for the Wall Street Journal done by Jim Carlton for a piece he was doing on public lands grazing. After the interviews, we did our show in Berkley at the Berkley Fellowship for Unitarian Universalists. This show was sponsored by their social justice committee. Many people from this group helped make this happen including Vic Sadot, Cynthia Johnson, David Yandel (sound), and Steve Jacobson (fliers). Our event was also sponsored and coordinated by Karen Pickett an activist with Earth First! and the Bay Area Headwaters Coalition. Musician, and Schools of the Sacred Heart teacher, Arnaz Raj performed a song he had written about buffalo inspired by the bison in Golden Gate Park.
We had the pleasure of speaking at two different schools while in the bay area. The first one was the Canyon K-8 School. Canyon school is located in Canyon California, home of Karen Pickett, where we were lucky enough to stay. Canyon school offers education to children from the Canyon area. It is a small school with around sixty kids and three classrooms. The second school was School of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco. Schools of the Sacred Heart San Francisco is an independent preparatory school routed in the Sacred Heart tradition of Catholic education. We did our presentation in the schools Syufy Theater for around three hundred students age 12-14. Before the presentation Arnaz performed his song with help from Talbot Moore (dean) on bass and Patrick Galvin (teacher) on violin. This show would not have been possible without help from deans Bill Jennings and Talbot Moore, stage manager Chris Miller with help from students Will Burns and Philo Judd, and the students from the SHB/CES eco-elective.
After the Schools of the Sacred Heart we went on to our next show that was held at the Conexion to Community facility in San Jose. Conexion to Community is a non-profit corporation based in Santa Clara County. They have a thirty plus year track record of helping underserved populations in their area. They offer employment, education, job training, mentoring, family wellness, and pro-social activity services for at-risk youth and their families. We stayed at Karen Rudolph’s house in Mountain View, home to John Trudell during his last years of life on this earth. This show would not have been possible without the help of Vernon Medicine Cloud, Kevin Murphy, John Malloy (director of the 500-mile CA American Indian Spirit Runners), Dr. Jennifer Pfeiffer (professor at San Jose State University and her students.
Our next two shows were held at the Santa Cruz Patagonia and the Santa Monica Patagonia. Both James from Santa Cruz, and Michelle from Santa Monica, along with the rest of the staff did an excellent job at putting these shows together. After our show in Santa Monica we went up the coast to Ventura where we stayed at the Vagabond Inn reserved for us by Patagonia Brand Ambassador, Chipper Bro Bell on behalf of the Patagonia Stores.
We then continued our journey back north along the coast to Santa Barbara. We did our show at El Centro in Santa Barbara. El Centro is a volunteer-run, radically inclusive "for the community, by the community" space on the lower Westside of Santa Barbara. Before our presentation Marcus Lopez and his son did an opening ceremony for the event blessing us with traditional Native American songs. That night we stayed with local Earth Firster and organizer of our event Alex. He shared his home with us, which was located on an intentional community in the hills above Santa Barbara. The drive to and from his house had some of the most beautiful views of the ocean and Santa Barbara.
After Santa Barbara, it was back up to San Francisco. Along the way we stopped in Morro Bay to camp and enjoy the ocean one last time. Once we made it back to the Bay Area, we did a show for the students of Phil Klasky in the Native American studies department of San Francisco State University. When asked if they had heard of the struggles facing the last wild and genetically intact bison all of the students responded “no”. Which just goes to prove that the main reason this is still a problem is lack of awareness to the public.
Almost at the end of our series of shows we experienced our first major setback, a flat tire. We were scheduled to be in Chico later that evening but we were stuck on the side of the road leaving Canyon, where we had once again stayed with Karen Pickett. After realizing we wouldn’t make it if we stuck around waiting for a AAA truck to come, Karen saved the day by letting us use her car to make the trip, while she stayed back to deal with our car. We arrived just in the nick-of-time to do a short speech for the folks attending the Pageant Theaters scheduled showing. Although many of the guests did not know we were coming that evening, due to scheduling conflicts, they all agreed to listen to our stories and were grateful to learn about our work.
We returned Karen’s car and retrieved ours and headed onward to finish the trip. The last two shows we had scheduled were in the Lake Tahoe/Truckee area. This first of these shows was in Incline Village, Nevada at the Village Green community center. Madonna Dunbar and Tenzin Pablo Ortega were our hosts for our time in this area and they organized these events. The second show was held at Alibi Ale Works’ public house and music venue in downtown Truckee, California. Co-owner and Co-founder of Alibi Ale Works is Kevin Drake. Kevin is a University of Montana Missoula graduate. Having lived in Montana during his college years he was already aware of the struggles of Yellowstone’s Bison herds. So, when offered a chance to help the campaign he was more than pleased to do so.
Thank you for reading this story of our adventures spreading the word to save the herd. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed being able to be a part of it. I again would like to say thank you to all the people who helped us along the way. Without support from our community of caring individuals none of the work we do would be possible, and our friends the buffalo would be in a much worse position then they are today. We must be the ones to take action to stop injustice not just for the buffalo but also for all of the earth’s inhabitants and ecosystems. Whatever you do, please don’t stop caring. With much humility and respect, I say thank you to all who read this and everyone I met along this journey!