Tim Blake munches on an organic date bar, breaking up pieces for the rest of us on a napkin. He’s hunkered down on one of the couches in his baby, Area 101.
I had made a date/appointment/verbal nod with Tim that I would be driving up today from San Francisco. I wasn’t sure if he’d remembered who I was.
“So, you found everything okay…” Tim said through small bites of the bar. “You sure you don’t want any? It’s organic.”
That goes without saying. Everything about the Emerald Triangle is about being organic, and it shows. Tim resembles a younger, better looking Bruce Dern. From the research I did on Tim (his facebook page) I know we’re both the same age. But where I have a small, attractive, slight paunch, Tim’s thin and wiry. His agile frame adds to his hyper-kinetic thinking and non-stop ideas that seem to trickle out like a Hippie ticket-taper. I liked this guy immediately and can see why he’s one of the unofficial leaders of not only this place, but the area.
I see two kinds of people in the world; those that bring something to the party and those who don’t. Not only does Tim Blake bring sustenance and bright ideas to the table, but party favors too. What’s not to like about this guy. But I’m telling, not showing…
I had been waiting for Tim…well, let’s just say in the time I spent waiting, I was able to explore the tranquil grounds of Area 101, and meet the staff, the patrons, the animal wildlife, why Teddy moved from the fast pace of Santa Cruz to the laidback country-living of Laytonville, why the Kate Wolf Festival coming up this weekend is a kick-ass show for old people like me, and many other topics and insights into the man and the place.
It seems that most of the people I encountered were very protective of Tim. I’d ask where he was and when would he’d be returning? Collectively I would get a, “Soon, very soon,” or I heard a lot, “He’s five minutes away…”
Since the Rolling Stone article, since everyone’s talking about Legalization and the ramifications for the Triangle. Area 101 and Tim, has been a hot bed of activity and discussions. Not like Tim hasn’t been holding dialogs and meetings at his place since starting back in the Nineties.
“None of this is new for me,” Tim says looking over some business that came in the mail or the pony express, I’m really not sure how they get their mail up here. “I had the sheriff, the DEA, and the growers discussing what’s next back in ’98. We’ve seen this coming for a long time.”
“When you say ‘this,’ do you mean Legalization?”
“Yeah, and everything else.”
“Like?” I say reaching for my notebook much to the raise eyebrows of the locals, two women in their late-fifties, early sixties, who’ve joined Tim and me around the big coffee table in the lower room across from where they sell the ceramic and glass pipes and bongs.
Tim leans in, raises and spreads his hands like a preacher at peace with his flock and his station in Life and says gently, “Everything…”
Okay. The thang of country living is not to push it. If you don’t understand something wait. You just might have your questions explained to you…if you don’t rush.
“Like everything. Legalization. Organic Growing. Collectives. Mendocino Clean Green. The future of CBD’s and the research that is happening with that. Everything, man. Soon, it’s all going to be coming together,” Tim almost seems to glow as he speaks.
Looking around I notice the room is slowly filling up with patrons and I’m guessing the usual gang that shows up around a little past quarter after four in the afternoon.
I was little concern bringing up the next question but it was the talk of the average growers that I met in the Triangle so far.
“So Tim, what do you think about San Francisco holding a Cannabis Cup this weekend?” I put my notebook down afraid I went too far for a first conversation.
“They had a Cannabis Cup? In June?” Tim stretches back into the couch. “I didn’t know that.”
“You’re the first person I’ve talk to that didn’t know that,” I say a little sheepishly.
Now there’s a chorus of a few stern “I didn’t know that,” echoing from around the room buttressing Tim’s comment. And I really wanted these people to like me.
Side Bar: A good number of all the people I met in the Triangle, for the most part, kind of ended up there for various reasons. The story I heard over and over was, I came up here one day/week/month/year many days/weeks/years ago with my boyfriend/girlfriend, he/she left and I stayed.
For the first couple of hours here hanging out, I wanted to move here. I was hoping my citified ways wasn’t going to count me out before I was in.
“Well, if they’re having it in June that means it’s for the indoor growers, right?”
“How do you feel about that?”I asked, figuring in for ounce, in for pound.
“Well it’s not fair, is it? But the dispensaries have taken over our market. The dispensaries are in it for the money. They’re growing with chemicals and without the Sun. They’re carbon footprint is huge, and not only is the Pot not as good for you as ours, but they…don’t…”
“…put the love in like you guys?” There, I was back. Hello Century 21. But I meant it too. The Triangle was all about the Love.
“Exactly! The difference between growing in a small room or warehouse can’t compete with organic growing under the Sun. See, there is a place for indoor. If you live in Michigan, say someplace where there’s snow or winter. You’ll have to grow indoors for part of the year. But even so, that can be done as organic as possible. Use solar energy! Let’s not do business the way it’s always been done. We need to change.”
“But how can you compete with indoor when they have more growing seasons than you, they can grow stronger Pot, and they kind of control the price.”
“You’re right about the price. We used to get a thousand more per pound than what we’re getting now. Is the price going down to the consumer? No. So what we have to do… is lower our price.”
“Really Tim?” The words might have come out of my mouth but some of the growers in the room were nodding with me.
“Really. We just need to do that marketing thing.”
This is where Tim Blake becomes like a founding father. Sometimes when he speaks, you kind of can hear a soundtrack with marching drums and ‘It’s A Beautiful Day’ flutes playing behind him. He oozes passive rebellion like some of us go to the grocery store.
“Sometimes it is just marketing. Remember California wines back in the day. We were a joke. Now how often do you hear of French wines here anymore? California became the premier wine to have and to order.” Bump-barumpt-bump-barumpt-barumpt-ba-bump. “We just have to market correctly. Like in gift baskets. We need to have a presence in the Bay Area. We need delivery services from the Triangle to San Francisco where it is all happening. We need to build up this area like Napa. We have to have a great product that is organic, tasty and comes in at $200-250 an ounce. That’s how we compete. With the price and putting out a better product. We need to collectives like fiefdoms up here. We need to put together the growers, maybe with a Good-Housekeeping kind of stamp of approval. Like the ‘Mendo Farms Collective’ stamp of approval. Only WEED that has been grown organic, there’s so many bugs you get growing indoors, that they pile on the chemicals and additives. People want to know that their Pot is green. We will assure that. Let the indoor growers have the high end, boutique stuff that we don’t want to grow. There’s a place for both, but outdoor is better, and better for you and the planet.”
I look around the room at the nodding, smiling people. It’s almost five on a lazy Tuesday afternoon, and I’m in a spontaneous townhall meeting about Dope and the future of. This is better than TV.
“Tim, I know that in the dispensaries, the CBD (cannabinoids) content is gaining exposure. I now hear patients asking about the CBD level. Is that a big thing up here?”
“Oh man, that where the growrooms are going to come in handy. The research coming in about CBD’s is they might be the next big cure. They are finding out that fresh, FRESH, Marijuana juiced contains an amazing amount of natural chemicals that boost your immune system like nothing else. They have found that there are about 134 different types of CBD’s. Some strains have incredible healing powers. The future of Dope is going to be…amazing.”
Tim and I spoke for another hour or so then I had to be moving on to Garberville for my next adventure.
Driving away I was thinking about how much I like writing about the Politics of Dope. Maybe just because I like the WEED but also, because of the people I meet.
Tim Blake and the other people in his tribe have been under the radar and above the dotted line for so long while some of us are just waking up to our herbal duties. Maybe in the future he’ll have his animated face on carton of WEED just like those angelic kids I see on the old time produce crates. He is one of pioneers of the movement.
If you have the chance, stop at Area 101, ten miles north of Laytonville. It might just change your life.