• Tag Archives Sierra Club
  • Legislature Lurches

    Spring                                                                      Beltane Moon

    The legislature lurches toward adjournment, up ending decades of environmental legislation as it goes, e.g.  permitting relaxation, a transfer of school trust lands out of the DNR’s purview (about 50% of land currently under their management), a probable wolf season.

    A major reason for the bad outcomes (from my point of view) is the legislature’s focus on three big issues:  Viking stadium, a bonding bill and the Republican tax legislation.  These are the issues with which the governor has engaged and around which he has used his leverage in negotiations.  Our issues have not risen to the top of any of these debates.

    This session, my third as chair of the Sierra Club’s legislative committee, is my last and I don’t like going out on this note, but there you are.  The next big target for all environmental activists has to be the 2012 elections where a concerted effort will be made to change control of both chambers of the legislature.

    The ebb and flow of political fortunes, effected as always by many factors outside anyone’s direct control–economy, world military engagements, current social issue orientations–will give us a favorable climate at some point.  We need to work to make that point the 2013-4 legislative session.

  • A Changeable Month

    Fall                                                Waxing Autumn Moon

    A warm fall night, a clear sky, a half moon high above it all.  The moon roof open on the Celica.  October in Minnesota.  A changeable month.

    The Sierra Club set its legislative priorities tonight, though with this particular legislature a good deal, most, of our work will be defensive in nature.

    Today saw final touches on my tour of ancient art for a group of Somali teens.  I did not know that Somalia was, most likely, the ancient land of Punt.  It covers the Horn of Africa like a cap, hugging the coastline north and south while extending in toward the interior.  Piracy is not a new activity here in this country positioned close to major shipping lanes for centuries.

    Did some editing on Spiritual Resources for Humanists, or With No God, and found it could use some rewriting. I’ll get to that Friday or Saturday.


  • Getting Ready for the Dark Time

    Lughnasa                                         Waning Harvest Moon

    The museum (MIA) has us check out when we’re going to be gone over our tour days, so I’ve checked out from mid-October through early December.  I’ve not had many tours in August and none in September, just one in October.

    That, plus the relatively light schedule for the Sierra Club–the legislature doesn’t convene until February, so no weekly meetings–has given me plenty of time for the late garden work with time left over rearranging the downstairs and reconfiguring my study.

    Yesterday I finished swapping out books from the bookcase nearest to my desk.  The desk and the bookcase form the sides of a U, with the bottom of the U created by the computer workstation.  On this bookcase I had collected various art and art history texts as the docent years had gone on, but they were works I did not reference frequently.

    What I need near the desk are books I pull off for work.  It’s a working bookcase, not a storage unit.  Now I have near me all my Latin dictionaries, commentaries, grammars and readers; various style manuals like The Chicago, a thesaurus and english grammars plus books on writing.   The works I use most after the latin texts are the oxford dictionary of art, the oxford dictionary of philosophy and the oxford english dictionary.

    On the bottom most shelf I have notebooks from docent training and several comprehensive art history texts.

    I do have a shelf devoted to a long term project which I’ve shorthanded Ge-ology.  This project has its own page on this website, but I’ve let it dangle, as I have the ecological history of Lake Superior.  Here’s the summary:  This work will gather various strands from ecology, environmental movements, pagan and neo-pagan faiths, literature, art and philosophy.  It will weave those strands into a faith indigenous to the Midwest (and most other places) and universal to Ge.

    Having at least some key texts near to hand may spur down time work on Ge-ology.  Oh, hell, why not go for it?  It will produce work.

    There are still a few book stacks on the floor and this and that to find new places for, but I’ll finish that today.  Ready for winter.

  • Capitol Camp Out

    Mid-Summer                                                                  Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    Mark and I drove into St. Paul to help set-up the Capitol Camp-Out action on the lawn of the State Capitol.    We helped set up the sound system, then transferred to pitching tents, ones with which we had no prior experience.  That was fun.  How do these things work?  This cross piece bends and goes there.  Nope.  Over there.  Sigh.  To make things more challenging the tents could not have stakes, State Capitol grounds rules.  When Mark and I left, the area had begun to fill up already with tents.

    After that we toured St. Paul, Rice Park, Irvine Park, Summit Avenue in particular.  Mark took over the wheel when we finished with Summit Avenue and drove us home, preparing himself for his driver’s license test.  He can’t do that until he gets a piece of paper from California confirming his previous license there some 20 + years ago.

    Kate spent the morning entering contacts into her new IPad2.  She’s already learned how to play several games.  She has a definite solitaire jones, playing with care and precision, the same way she quilts.

    Last night, still working out my new schedule, I spent an hour or so throwing out magazines.  Yes, I know.  I keep saving them for that mythical moment of return, which, I’m finally admitting, just never occurs.  Wired, Scientific American, Economist, Sierra Club, Philosophy Now, Dissent, Parabola, Orion.  I love magazines.  And don’t like to part with them.  Until now.

  • Take Action Against Sulfide Mining Exploratory Drilling

    Mid-Summer                                                                      Waning Garlic Moon

    This is part of a note I sent to the Forest Service about issuing permits for exploratory drilling in Northeastern Minnesota.  You can take part by clicking:

    “Please accept these comments on the Federal Hardrock Mineral Prospecting Permit Draft EIS (DEIS). I have serious concerns about the project’s potential for harmful impacts to Minnesota’s natural resources.

    Caring for our wilderness and natural heritage is a huge responsibility and I commend those of you in the Forest Service who have made it your life’s work.  Thank you for your commitment.

    This particular instrument, a DEIS focused only on the environmental effects of drilling itself, is disingenuous. And you must know that.

    The real environmental impact of drilling, whatever transient effects it may have, will be the mines, if any, that occur in its wake.  To not count the certainty of mining in the case of favorable mineral deposits as the first and most significant environmental impact of drilling makes us all look absurd.  Please, please add mining to the list of drilling’s environmental impacts.  Logic and good policy formation demand it.”

  • Friday

    Beltane                                                               Full Garlic Moon

    Boy, the learning is slow on Latin.  I slogged through conditional counter-factual clauses and how to translate subjunctive verbs within them.  I’m still at the beginning of the Pentheus story but already we know what will happen to Pentheus, torn into a thousand bloody pieces by his mother and aunts, he will be scattered all over the place.  It’s worth waiting to get to the good part where he happens on his mother and her maenad friends.

    Kate and I met with Mark over lunch.  He’s done a lot.  He attended a job seeking resource day on Wednesday and an interview tips day on Thursday.  He’s working now on getting info together about a driver’s license and Minnesota Care.  He’s made a lot of strides since he got here in early April.

    Back in to the Convention center for another 4 hour shift at the Sierra Club booth.  Back home now.  Bushed.  Some TV, some reading, then bed.

  • A Sucker. One Born Every Minute.

    Beltane                                                         Waning Last Crescent Moon

    So.  Last Wednesday I drove into Minneapolis for the last regular legcom meeting of this year.  We’d been going at it since January, once a week, with all the prep work and other matters (legislative hearings, visits to legislators, conferences, boning up on the issues) and everybody would, I know, be ready for a rest.

    First, though, I had to pick up Wanda Davies at Victoria and County Road C in Roseville.  In my rush to get out the door I oriented myself toward the street I knew that intersected with County Road C, Snelling Avenue.  That was how I ended up waiting in the parking lot of the Holiday station.

    While I was waiting, a woman in a disheveled Whiskey Sour Notes t-shirt approached me.  Her car had blown a tire on the road.  The trooper gave her two hours to move it and she needed to get a can of the stuff that inflates your tire.  She’d found somebody to take her out there after she’d bought it, but the total was $50.00.  She had skin lesions on her face that in retrospect may have been meth craters, though her teeth looked good.

    Anyhow I reached in my wallet, gave her the $50 I had plus my name and address.  She said she’d repay me.  When I told Kate, she said, “You’re always a sucker for a hard-luck story.”  Yeah, I am.

    As I’ve reflected on it now, her anxiety, which was real, might have been a drug jones as much as worry about her vehicle.  I don’t know.  Even so, I’d rather risk being wrong than refuse an authentic plea for help.  It’s only money.

    Oh.  Yes, I did pick up Wanda after a phone call or two and we had the meeting.  And were glad to be finished with the session.

  • A Northern Night

    Beltane                                                                                      Full Last Frost Moon

    The last legcom call of the session tonight.  I went into the Sierra Club office to make the call because I had to be in a meeting at 6 pm just down the block.  The legcom call is at 5pm.  Not enough time to make it into the city for a 6pm meeting.

    I got a chili cheese dog (oh, I know…) and a blueberry smoothie at the Fast Freeze across the street from the Sierra Club offices.  Eating local.

    The last meeting was interesting, but went over time.  I was glad when it ended.

    I still had the drive back to Andover of course, but I have a new book on DVD, so I had a reward.  It’s a W.E.B. Griffith novel about the covert world.  He’s not very adroit at getting the backstory into the narrative, in essence he tells most of it rather than shows.  The real book starts somewhere well after the first few pages.

    It was one of those northern nights when the modest heat of the day lingered atop the oncoming chill of the evening, a time when driving becomes mesmerizing, a trip back in time.  Nights spent cruising drive-ins, looking for girls.  Nights driving past the acres and acres of corn that grew in the fields that surrounded my hometown.  A night driving back to Kona from Kiluaea, a full moon in the sky and the air scented with jacaranda and jasmine.

  • Busy Friday

    Beltane                                                                                           Waxing Last Frost Moon

    Finally.  One chunk of the Metamorphosis finished in a literal (sort 0f) version.  That’s Book III:138-250.  My learning curve has been steep, sometimes so much so that I thought I might tip over backwards, but I seem to have reached a point where moving forward goes faster now and the hill no longer looks quite so daunting.  The next step is to take it apart and put it back together in idiomatic English, then compare it to other translations, see what insights that adds.  As a guy who thought the world of language had invalidated his passport years ago, I’m pleasantly surprised and pleased with myself.  It means a lot to do something at 64 that I’ve spent a lifetime imagining I couldn’t.

    After that I drove into Little Sezchuan and had lunch with Justin and Margaret, the Sierra Club’s lobbyist and Executive Director.   We discussed evaluating our legislative work this year, wrapping things up and getting ourselves squared away for the 2011-2012 session.  This has been a difficult year and it’s not over.

    Came home, ready for my nap.  But.  Vega lay in the kitchen, scrunched up in pain and bloodied from some kind of a fight.  No clue what happened, but we first examined her, then took her over to the vet who sewed her up, gave her antibiotics and pain pills and we brought her home.  She’s resting now, but the vet says she be very sore tomorrow.  She’s such a sweety, she just let them work on her.

    Now, I’m sleepy, but can’t get my nap because it would interfere with going to sleep.

  • The Great Lake

    Beltane                                                  Waxing Last Frost Moon

    Have you ever had a love affair that ebbed and flowed like embers in a fire wavering between bursting into flame and dying out?  I have.  Today I visited that other lover in my life, Lake Superior.  A bookshelf full of books rest in a room not ten feet from here, each one of them related to Lake Superior in some way.  An entire file drawer of a vertical file drawer contains carefully organized files, each an eco-region in the area around Lake Superior and its watershed.  In another spot sit the maps, some USGS, some others representing the land around the Lake.  There are, too, files of notes from two circle route trips I took, each time stopping in various county historical societies:  Ontanogon, Marquette, Thunder Bay to pursue research about this phenomenon less than 2 and half  hours from my front door.

    My brother Mark and I drove up there.  He wandered Park Point and hiked all the way up Lake Street to the top, turning then for a magnificent view of the lake.  While he discovered Duluth, I attended a conference on Sulfide Mining on the Mesabi Range.  This was a large group, 70 plus folks, gathered to hear experts discuss various aspects of sulfide mining’s impact on the waters of three watersheds and the communities of people, trees and wildlife that would share the land with this toxic producing form of mining.

    It was one of those clear northern spring days.  The sun flashed off the lake, bouncing off the crests of waves made by lakers going in and out of the Duluth Harbor.  The temperature was cool by the lake, warmer up the slope of the hillside where St. Scholastica sits; it’s fortress like main building dominating the surrounding the area.

    The drive was long and the stay short, a combination I try to avoid, though this is my second time recently.  The drive out to Lincoln, Nebraska to get the dogs was also a long drive, short stay, quick turn around.

    Not sure where Lake Superior and I stand.  The old spark was there as we crested the hill and looked out over the St. Louis River toward Superior, Wisconsin and the lake spread out below us.  My research, though, sits unused, as it has for several years.  What’s the status of this relationship?  Not sure.