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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 19may50011

Forest Service nixes grassroots call for extension of deadline for comments

PLANNING RULE … It’s deeply disappointing to just begin to understand the Forest Service’s new planning rule from all the various perspectives of multiple user groups and be forced to comment without the time to really sift through the changes to see how things on the ground will be affected. It’s impressive that Sheep Mountain Alliance was one of only three Colorado groups to comment on the new planning rule when it was in draft form for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement … County governments came to the table late. And while we have been working to understand things, we needed more time to figure out exactly what the new rule will do to local communities and the environment. We, along with many folks, asked for an extension of time to consider the new planning rule and how best to comment on it … But Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said no extension. Which sounds like “no collaboration” to me. Unfortunate, as many of us were supportive of trying to get a new rule in place. But when the center doesn’t listen to the grassroots in calling for more time to analyze and comment intelligently, it’s a good sign that everything they say about collaboration plays second fiddle to politics. And that makes us all losers.

ASHAMED? … I’ve had my doubts about the wisdom of building a noisy, polluting airport in the Telluride area 30 years ago. And I still do. I think I was quoted back in the early ‘80s on KOTO that Telluride was becoming a county sacrifice area to industrial tourism. The airport is certainly a part of that … But in a down economy, with our tourist-dependent community airport teetering on the verge of losing all future FAA funding and maybe even its commercial status, it’s hard not to look sympathetically at the Airport Authority’s attempts to find a new way to lure more airline flights into TEX. Especially as the issue of the FAA’s pre-emption of county (state) authority in all matters of flight operations (if not land use impacts) seems pretty well established in federal court cases … But this is a social hot potato. Citizens have been led to believe for years that no night flights would happen. For some it is a clear case of doublespeak. Saying one thing and ending up doing another. For others they see foreclosures, declining revenues, loss of jobs and they think making Telluride a little bit more accessible to visitors and second home commuters is a no-brainer. So, I understand strong feelings on both sides … But there was absolutely no excuse for No Night Flights Attorney Erin Johnson, who practices law in Montezuma County and lives in Dolores County, to say she was “ashamed” of the San Miguel County Board of Commissioners for not upholding her understanding of our county land use rules. That comment was unprofessional, inappropriate and insulting. Ms. Johnson can make her case in court, as she’s threatened to do in public several times now, and we’ll see what happens. But an ad hominem attack from an officer of the court in a public meeting was uncalled for … Personally, although I’m not happy to see night flights, and if the county had the authority to say no, I would seriously consider not allowing them, it seems increasingly clear that it’s out of our board’s control, legally. And as such, I think the Airport Authority is acting in good faith and with the economic health of our community in mind in moving in the direction of approving night flights in the winter ... We beat each other up pretty bad over our local issues in To-Hell-U-Ride, but by giving a thorough airing of all the issues, impacts and concerns, I’m proud of our county for looking at a controversial change from all perspectives, giving folks multiple meetings to express their views, and then for the board with legal authority to make the decision to give us their best guess. I see no shame in that at all.

PPP … There’s one kind of personal pet peeve (PPP) that drives me crazy. Especially in the winter when CDOT coats our local highways with tree-killing magnesium chloride, sand and cinders to provide traction on ice-slick roads. It’s when someone else is in a hurry and I’m traveling slow (yes, it’s been known to happen). Single-file, we reach a stretch of yellow broken line. Seeing a turn signal in my rearview, I hug the shoulder’s solid white line, and the other driver passes … Here’s when my PPP comes into play. Some drivers pull at least two or three car-lengths ahead before signaling and slipping back into my lane ahead of me. That’s courteous and considerate. Sometimes a tight reach of broken line forces a driver to dart back into my lane barely a car-length ahead. That’s annoying, but understandable. Safety first … But the drivers that push my PPP button jerk back in front of me for no good reason, spewing window-cracking rocks into my windshield, with lots of room for them not to do that … Maybe it’s a habit from darting in and out of city traffic. But in the mountains, with the roads full of small rocks and pea gravel, it’s downright dangerous. I’ve had so many cracked windshields over the years, I’ve lost count. Wish there was some way to educate mountain drivers about that.


Dig It

The deeper I dig
the more I realize

I will not be buried
in a shallow grave.

-David Oyster

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Siempre Cantando
Flowers & Shrooms

(A Prayer)

-for Ernesto Cardenal

Yo ando siempre cantando
Make me a god of flowers & shrooms
Strong man. Story man

The asphalt’s alive with dead
Oil. I try to walk the edges
Keep distance to heart

And let the head dance
On its own, playing tricks
Joking with friends & strangers

I trust. Not the strangers we meet
In bluegreen bouncelight. TV ghosts
Musing on whose beer’s better

Or what car totem tie to buy
Cabezos Hablandos preguntan,
“Think their war’s as smart as ours?”

Make up’s the best mask for
Deception. A Tai Chi posture of peace
Can be a pounce in waiting

Some can pretend anything
Except what’s true, but
most of us can smell truth

What loves suddenly
May be rot taking root
Lipstick on a pig

Is that an argument against
Risk? Have you not been
Whirled, diced & consumed

By the unexpected razz-a-ma-tazz?
The turquoise blue waterfalls
Of Havasupai?

When I was young, I rode
My bike, whistling & making up
Songs, willy-nilly

Lyrics to charm the jacaranda
Tame the passionflower
Twined around my porch

Now it’s time to make love again
Not war. To celebrate being
So gratefully about-to-be-dead

Alive & living it up
So make me one. Quiero andar
Siempre cantando

Let me find the goddess within
This entangled multiverse
Of flowers & shrooms

Capt. Barefoot Broadside                                          Union of Street Poets
Vincent St. John Local / Colorado Plateau / Aztlán
 Kuksu Brigade (Ret.) / San Francisco

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pandora Box #1

Pandora's Box

a new column on poetry by the Western Slope's Poet Laureate

Art Goodtimesby Art Goodtimes  


the raw data of doing
just doesn’t jell

until way late
in the canning or

or whatever

cling peaches
blushing apricots
whipped cream

POEM OF MINE … I’m going to start each month with a poem of my own. I think  this one was in response to a poem of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer – whose May Day and Mother's Day poems appeared  at Telluride Inside... and Out at the start of this month. She maintains a poem-a-day practice, and has done that for several years now …

WELCOME BACK, PB … I’ve had a Pandora’s Box column on & off in Telluride for more years than I want to count. In a number of newspapers, some of which are now defunct. Not surprising, really, in the digital age, when print media is, at best, old-fashioned. Nostalgic … Gaia’s cyberneurons of social media and email are either a crash population taking us into barbarity and the muck of dark matter, or the shining lariats of galactic hope here to teach our dog (spelled backwards) a few new tricks … Whatever your belief de jour about where technology is taking us, the train is underway. And TIO has staked a gold spike on the way to on-line modernity … But, after a couple tries, it seems that my blog is a better fit for this column than TIO. Unlike older versions of PB, this will be a monthly liberal arts and humanities column with an emphasis on poetry, my specialty

PANDORA … Oh, and I can’t jump-start PB without talking about Pandora, again. She was the gal that opened the box that let all the evils out into the world, right? Wrong! … That was Hesiod’s version of the old myths that he wrote up in his Theogonia (Theogeny, or Origin of the Gods) that became the accepted versions of the ancient myths for the Hellenes from the Seventh Century, B.C.E., onwards. And another of his works, Erga kai Hemerai (Works and Days) details his story of Pandora. In Greek the word means “All Gifts”. According to Jane Ellen Harrison, Hesiod’s tale changes Pandora from its original Great Mother goddess archetype into Patriarchy’s first woman, who brings evil into the world by opening her jar (mis-translated as “box” by Eramus in the Renaissance). Robert Graves writes, “"Pandora is not a genuine myth, but an anti-feminist fable, probably of [Hesiod’s] own invention" … So, for me, Pandora’s box is full of all the good things of the world that the Earth Mother gives to us, which is why, as a modern poet, I’ve used her name for my columns -- to redeem her story.

TELLUS … As it turns out, Telluride has two earth goddess figures applied to local places – one the current star attraction town and the other a ghost town, all but obliterated by avalanche and time … Tellus is a Latin term for “Earth” and appears to be an alternate name for the Roman Terra Mater (“Earth Mother”), just as Pandora (All Gifts) was one of the epithets given the Greek Earth Mother … One thing for sure, early miners and settlers in San Miguel Park knew their classics.

KAREN CHAMBERLAIN … Colorado’s Western Slope has been blessed with a number of poetry festivals – Talking Gourds that’s kicked around Telluride, Faraway Ranch and Windy Point on the Uncompahgre Plateau; Sparrows in Salida; and the Festival of the Imagination in Del Norte … While Talking Gourds continues to move around and shape-shift, the Thunder River Theatre Company of Carbondale has started a new tradition to honor the Roaring Fork writer, poet and a teacher/mentor to many, Karen Chamberlain, who passed away this past year … This year’s event was in March in Carbondale, and next year’s will be an event not to miss.

ECO-WAR OR ECO-DANCE?… Such a contrast last month. I was all pumped up to learn about Deep Green Resistance and hear Derrick Jensen speak at Noble Hall at Fort Lewis (Noble Hall named for Sen. Dan Noble, Norwood’s Republican legislator who made it into leadership from the Western Slope – no small feat) … Jensen quoted lots of my favorite writers, including Dolores LaChapelle. He had the “what’s wrong” thing down pat. And I thought maybe he was going to offer some new, innovative strategies for turning our cultural Titantic around, from what appears to be a climate change iceberg and a raft of social injustice follies. But I was greatly disappointed … His talk was Revolution Lite, but it involved violent overthrow of the system, or at least comic one-liners that made it seem so. He talked seriously about taking out dams. Made jokes about AK-47s. Lauded assassinations as a viable method of change … Instead of doing the tough, slow work of building community, he seemed to be impatient to tear it down. He even deconstructed hope, and made it seem a worthless abrogation of personal responsibility … Jensen wasn’t an eco-philosopher-bard, as he’d been billed -- at least not in my book. He was Peck’s bad boy of violent change. A leftish fundamentalist with a stand-up comic’s rhetoric and a willingness to embrace any means necessary to bring the Empire down … A few days before that talk I got to participate in a Community Building mini-conference in Manitou Springs called Off the Couch!, hosted by Concrete Couch and the Community Built Association … There were theater games, trust-building exercises, role-playing, art and sculpture interactive group assignments, and a couple dazzling lectures – one about the amazing work of Umberto Crenca of AS220 in Providence, Rhode Island, who turned a free-for-all gallery idea into a multi-million dollar arts operation based on egalitarianism and populist ideals (like equal pay for all 50 employees, from the CEO to the janitor) and the other about livable urban street design from Dom Nozzi … Saturday’s events were followed by a Gourd Circle Sunday where participants got to share what they’d learned, the connections they’d made, the poetry that was inspired. It was community building at its finest. Not the skirting-the-edge-of-violence that’s made a media icon of Derrick Jensen, but the true skill building and cultural interconnections necessary for the resilience of communities in the face of disaster and change … Make war or make love. Those are the two choices we have in this life. And I definitely come down on the side of the latter.

GOURD CIRCLE POET … Hard not to honor San Miguel County’s new Poet Laureate Elle Metrick, editor of the Norwood Post … Follow her recent work on her blog


It’s so messy
a tangle viney
a tessera of bailing twine
orange session with wine
here, take an end
make words
one more method
a harness for excuses
not to make them look beautiful
make us look beneath
stars still guide us
-Elle Metrick

Monday, May 16, 2011


Lyric Dao of an Asian
Mountain Recluse

-for John St. Andre,
with nods to many dakini poets

No longer drawn to lush. Less
to Rumi or Mirabai. Finding myself
nearing the end, wild about spare

Though, of course, at times ecstatic
Tantric. Whirling one’s hair.
Embedded in the all-embracing feminine

But I’ve ranted at Pops. Taken my Zen
shots at Tooth-Mother naked
feverish & koyaanisqatsi

Aging, it's time to savor tanka
&, at last, a homeopathic dose of 
mystery’sTaoist antidotes

Up Bear Creek / 12may50011

Why process is important even if
it takes longer than first planned

PLP … For years the Public Land Partnership has been the regional table of trust for local citizens from varying stakeholder groups concerned about the management of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison Forests. People from San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose and Delta counties would come together monthly to talk about important issues with elected officials, ranchers, miners, motorized recreationalists, enviros, state and federal agency folks and any interested citizens … In the past, PLP was an incubator of ideas that turned into projects – some of them winning national awards. Of late, the crowds have been smaller, but the discussions continue to tackle divisive and important issues … Folks last week were just getting their hands around the Forest Service’s new Planning Rule proposal from different perspectives – not just what our friends were saying, but from those with very different agendas ... I got an earful in DC this past March from high-level Forest Service staff about what was intended with the changes in the planning rule process -- of how the Forest Service wants to operate in making plans to manage public forests. And I attended a National Planning session in DC with rollout explanations by various Forest Service officials and Q&As after each talk. I was impressed with the focus on collaboration with local governments built into the new rule … Coming home I learned from Commissioner Joan May and some of my enviro friends that there was widespread ecological concern that the rules were too vague and didn’t have specific standards embedded in the draft language, to ensure protection for ecosystem values… And at a PLP meeting in April, I heard from my industry friends that given all the new emphasis on establishing species viability (as directed by the court in tossing out the previous planning rule revisions in 2005 and 2008) and extending special protections, it would appear that the Forest Service would have even less capacity than the insufficient job they were currently doing protecting forest health from wildfire and beetle threats, providing for a viable timber industry (particularly in our Western states), and balancing all these new mandated levels of planning with declining budgets … I was just beginning to assimilate all those various perspectives and working to try and find a balance point that would best address all those concerns while moving the Forest Service proposal forward. I’d started private conversations with enviros and industry folks. We were drafting letters and starting to share issues. But like so many processes, when government is involved, it takes at least twice as long as you think to get a good representative cross-section of the citizenry educated and involved. A 90-day May 16th deadline was rapidly approaching and even I, directly involved in public land management on national, state and local levels, had just begun to assimilate and start to sort through, not just the data and documents, but the varied perspectives and issues of the many stakeholder groups affected. A number of entities and individuals asked for an extension of the new Planning Rule comment deadline (including San Miguel County) – to give us the time needed to wrestle with a very important change in the way the Forest Service operates. But the Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell denied the request for an extension … It’s a shame. The Forest Service wants to collaborate. But when you take the time to really learn the issue, read the voluminous documents (draft rules, explanations, environmental impact statement), and start to form coalitions to address the issues from all sides, the Forest Service shifts from partner to police. Sorry. Time’s up. Enough public comment. It took us over a year to write up the new rules, but now you only get three months to review and comment … It’s unfortunate. Instead of giving citizens a chance to make meaningful comment, the Forest Service is pushing ahead with the direction they clearly want to go, more than they care how the public fares moving along in high speed turtle style … The Forest Service may be a disappointment, but you should consider coming to the June 2 Public Lands Partnership’s annual meeting in Montrose’s Friendship Hall (over behind the Coffee Trader). Our regional group will be looking to the future, and how PLP can help stimulate discussion among diverse constituents to find common solutions to public lands issues in our backyard.

SCHOOLING … For those of us critical of public schools (in spite of all the good they do), it’s amazing to see that two of the children, for whom concerned parents created our own private schools in Norwood and Ridgway, have gone on to graduate summa cum laude at Ft. Lewis College in Durango – Ruby Siegel and Rio Coyotl … For me it validates the worth of doing more for one’s children then simply trundling them off into a deeply flawed public school system. Worth the money (paying private tuition as well as public taxes), worth the time, worth the effort.

SAWPIT SHEEP… Ah, sometimes email communication doesn’t save newspapers from mistakes. I sent a correction into the Watch after doing some further investigation about the critters at Sawpit. While they looked like Mountain Goats – short horns, white bodies – they were actually a herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis). Goats have pure white bodies, not the brownish white of sheep. However, somehow the correction didn’t make it into print … I also sent in a correction that only two of Ouray County commissioners couldn’t attend the annual CCI meet in Vail – but somehow the wrong info still got into print … We make every effort at accuracy, whether columnist or reporter, but sometimes systems fail us … I got a comment on the sheep/goat mistake on line, and when I tried to reply, the website wouldn’t accept my password … Some weeks are like that.


Oops, You Lose

          -for Michael

I walk a mile
out the Orvis front door
before I realize
whose shoes are whose

after your unclosed eyes
watched, half-dressed
as I laced up the wrong boots
& chatted you goodbye

Friday, May 13, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 5may50011

Oldest son graduates from Ft. Lewis

RIO COYOTL … Okay, so what’s the big deal? Lots of sons graduate from college. But not all kids graduate summa cum laude (Latin> “with highest praise”). I sure didn’t. And not many kids do. But Rio did … And (I have to brag) this boy who was homeschooled, attended public schools in Norwood and Paonia, as well as parent-organized private schools in Norwood and Ridgway, managed to be appointed Student Marshal at the commencement ceremonies in Durango last weekend. There were four marshals in total – the four students with the highest grade point average in the graduating class at the Fort this year … Majoring in Accounting, Rio took an extra year of study and managed a 3.999 gpa for all five years of classes (one A- and the rest all As)… As a paleohippie-turned-pol and San Miguel County resident, I’m not only proud and impressed by my son but delighted to see a local boy excel in a completely different field then his dad. Our children are such amazing spirits, and to see them come into their own is one of life’s blessings, particular to parents, if never guaranteed … But then his best friend since childhood has been Norwood’s Mesa Hollinbeck, another Ft. Lewis alumnus, now working as a rocket scientist!

Mother Jones at the Capitol

“I’m not a humanitarian; I’m a hell raiser.”
---Mary Harris Jones

There’s another war that needs
To honor its dead. There’s another struggle
Needs memory. Mother Jones
Led women through a trench of snow
Down to the Capital in Denver.
She was mobilizing support
For the strikers in Ludlow
& the southern coalfields.
“The miner’s angel,”
She was always there.

In Trinidad they arrested her.
Can’t let this old woman cause trouble.
When the women marched
To protest her arrest
General Chase fell off his horse.
Damned women spooked his stallion
“Ride Down the Women!” he ordered
To cover his embarrassment.
So, sabers flashing these brave &
distinguished militia
Rode down on unarmed women
On Main Street in Trinidad
& saved Colorado from unions.

So, here’s my idea: Statue of
Mother Jones standing at the Capital
On one side & a statue of Louis Tikas
On the other
So we never forget what
It took to get workers’ basic rights.
And every May Day
We can reaffirm the struggle
To keep those rights
& add a few.

-Phil Woods

MIXED MESSAGES … U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) had two aides in San Miguel County last week … Adam Eckman of the D.C. office made it over Lizard Head pass in a storm to meet for a quick dinner at Cocina de Luz and talk about natural resource issues – his specialty – and the San Juan Wilderness Bill … Chris Quintana of the Cortez office cut short a Norwood visit but promises to come see us in San Miguel County soon.

SPEAKING OF SCOTT … Did all of you get that self-congratulatory flyer in your mailbox from the 60 Plus Association telling you to call Scott Tipton and thank him for “improving and protecting Medicare”? According to the big format glossy, Scott’s vote in favor of the new federal budget plan 1) reduced Medicare waste, 2) protected current Medicare recipients, 3) targets more money for sick and poor seniors, and 4) will provide better choices for future generations. Sounds great … And 60 Plus Association characterizes itself on the flyer as ”a non-partisan national seniors advocacy group.” Clearly, a group to be trusted, right? Well, maybe not … According to SourceWatch -- “Your guide to the names behind the news” -- – The 60 Plus Association is described in an article in the AARP Bulletin (AARP truly being a national seniors advocacy group) as a front group for the pharmaceutical industry. The author, Bill Hogan, writes that 60 Plus, along with Senior Coalition and United Seniors Association, claim to speak for millions of older Americans, but that their membership does not come from membership dues. In fact, adds Hogan, “virtually all of their largest contributions in recent years have come from the same source -- the nation's pharmaceutical industry.” … This is the same group that targeted former U.S. Rep. John Salazar with a dozen inflammatory out-of-state mailings in the last election – all because Salazar championed a bill to let the government negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over drug prices for seniors – a provision of the Obama health care bill that Republicans fought successfully to kill … So, don’t be fooled. If you want to call Rep. Tipton at 719-587-5105, do so and suggest to his aides that he ought to be truly representing senior citizens in his district, not carrying water for the pharmaceutical companies

CLEAN ENERGY PARK … If you think that’s a term for an alternative energy development you’d want to have in your community, think again. This is the name a developer on the other side of the range gave to a development with a $5 billion Nuclear Power Plant as its centerpiece … Luckily, the Pueblo County Commissioners weren’t fooled (including my hero Commissioner John Sandoval) and they turned the proposed Planned Unit Development down on a unanimous vote. Thank you, John, and the other commissioners … Watch out for names. Clearly unscrupulous developers are trying to snooker folks by proposing bad projects with appealing names. Just like the 60 Plus Association above.

OOPS … I sent in a flurry of corrections to last week's column -- none of which made it into the Watch (self-correcting backup systems being among the hardest to put into effective place -- as we're seeing at Fukashima) ... Only two of the Ouray County commissioners, not all of them, will miss this summer’s Colorado Counties, Inc.’s annual meeting in Vail ... And those were female Mountain Sheep (all) in the herd of 12 or so I saw in Sawpit a couple weeks ago. Mountain Goats have the same small horns, but their fur is pure white, not the brownish white of Mountain Sheep ewes. My apologies for any confusion ... Nevertheless, the Sawpit Mercantile continues to stay open for off-season.


My Mother’s Things

In the very last of the death boxes:
umpteen beautiful crystal bottles filled
with exotic perfumes from foreign lands,
pounds of barbaric jewelry,
ancient bones and stones.

A jug full of bells.
A jug full of bells...
some of them tongueless, voiceless.

Poetry...even a book of poetry
the poet being an old, dead lover
of my mother Wild Honey.

The belt she made at camp
when she was fourteen.

My second grade report card...
my teacher notes my "enormous imagination"
and my "sense of humor."
(It was nice of her to write that...
I can't think of anything worse
than me as a funny second-grader.)

I have my mother's old love letters.
She also saved every word I ever wrote to her.

I have her silks
yards and yards of red silk and purple.
I'm going to make my photograph in them...

I have her passport, her library card...
her statue of Obi Wan Kenobi.

I have her eyes...her cheekbones...
her blood...
her ashes.

-Valerie Haugen
Glenwood Springs