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Monday, December 3, 2012

Up Bear Creek / 22nov25012

Giving thanks for what we’ve been gifted

TURKEY DAY … The wild Turkey should have been the American animal totem, if we hadn’t been so enamored of military might that we chose the Eagle instead. But then we are a nation born in revolution. If it hadn’t been for military might, we might not exist as an independent nation. We might have stayed a British colony, part of the English Commonwealth, toasting a queen or king instead of sticking stubbornly to a Constitution that, for all its faults, upholds our Declaration of Independence with its championing of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness … Yes, the Electoral College is an anachronism unworthy of any modern democracy. Yes our winner-take-all elections often leave minorities (and always minor parties) disempowered. Traditions like the Senate’s filibustering allows the few to thwart the many … I love quoting President Obama, “We are an imperfect union.” But our job as citizens, as Jefferson would have admonished us, is to keep advocating for change, and to work towards “a more perfect union,” as Lincoln envisioned … We’ve done that in many ways. Ending slavery. Extending suffrage to women. More recently, legalizing gay marriage in some states. And in Colorado, even legalizing cannabis … These changes have been slow, and yet on the scale of human history amazingly swift. Race equality, like gender equality, isn’t achieved, but we’re working towards it, and we’re getting closer … This Thanksgiving there is a lot to be thankful for. Re-electing Obama may not have seemed so momentous or invigorating or even hopeful as his first campaign for office. But, in my mind, it’s far more important … I’m a Green. I have lots of disagreements with both political parties. But I voted for Obama this election. Yes, Dr. Jill Stein was far closer to what I truly believed. I think her GreenNew Deal was a far better road map for our future than what any of the other candidates offered, including Obama … But I also understand our clunky electoral system and its imperfect workings. There may have been 17 candidates running for president – but only two counted. And the Romney/Ryan vision of America, with its Reagan/Bush war-mongering foreign policy and its domestic war on the middle class, women, gays and drugs was not a very hopeful vision for my children -- from my perspective … As I’ve stated in this column previously, I’ve reserved criticizing Obama until his second term. One term presidents can’t change much. The next four years will really determine what Obama can do to change and improve this nation. That he won a second term shows me – a long-term thinker – that he got it. He understood that he needed to balance his supporters’ hope for change the first time around, with enough moderation to appeal to independents and allow him a second term. That’s the great secret to being successful in politics – thinking strategically … This term will be the time to criticize and agitate (as Jim Hightower would say) and see if we can move the national conversation towards a Greener vision of America, and the world.

Sec. Ken Salazar and Commissioner Pete McKay of Silverton

KEN SALAZAR … I know it wasn’t politically correct (threatening to punch out a journalist for ambushing him in a press conference) and it might have soured Ken’s chances for higher office, but maybe I’ve lived in Norwood too long or maybe it’s my deep Italian ancestry. As I’ve written in one of my poems, my neck keeps getting redder, even as I try to hold a green course forward through a blue county … I had to secretly admire Ken for losing his cool. How many times have I wanted to say exactly that after a public meeting? … Ken’s a true Westerner, not just because he continues to wear his cowboy hat in D.C., but because he sometimes lets his emotions get the best of his razor-sharp mind. Personally, I love both those aspects of him (and yes, he did apologize for the inappropriate behavior).


CANNABI-TOURISM … In these hard economic times, I think Telluride and San Miguel County have just been given an amazing economic opportunity (not without its perils but with great potential benefits) … If we can jump on setting up a reasonable licensing system, I could see San Miguel County becoming the Amsterdam of ski areas. Folks could flock from all over the country to come here to enjoy their recreational herb legally, while skiing our slopes and attending our summer season of festivals … San Miguel County was first in the state in percentage of voters approving Amendment 64 that regulates cannabis like alcohol (79%) -- followed by Pitkin (75%), Summit (69%), Gunnison (67%), Eagle (66.5%), Boulder (66%), Denver (65.9%), San Juan (65%) and Saguache (64%).

MOSHER EXPOSURE … I don’t know about you, but I’m upset with KOTO for yanking my favorite radio talk show off the air last month. I love Audrey and Erick and their banter. It’s radio with a little meat, some local color, and a great camaraderie … Every radio station has music. But only community radio has local talk show hosts who reflect the quirky, idiosyncratic, oddball humor and lifestyle of a place. It’s what made Telluride a mecca for the downwardly mobile in the Seventies … Have we gotten so upscale these days we can’t allow some diverse opinions and peculiar perspectives? Personally, I relish the show – it’s my kind of mustard on a great hot dog … Let our community station know how you feel. Bring back the Moshers.



eating my hafiz of an avocado
you gave me after i
brought flowers

& we watched together
the pre-moon alpenglow on the waiting
peaks of Wilson Mesa’s overflow

that silky spiky cream green
beloved flavor, almost sweet
gift for gift

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Up Bear Creek / 15nov25012

Singing the Blues

copyright Scripps Media, Inc. 2012

DOUBLE WHAMMY … As a newspaper columnist in Telluride since 1982 (30 years!), it was hard having to give up my freelance gig, at the same time my main job was in jeopardy. But I think the folks at the Watch wanted to be sure that my weekly opinions weren’t an unfair advantage in the election, and that was reasonable … Instead of a column, I did write letters to the editor (both paid and unpaid). But a lot of issues that I would have liked to have seen in print locally didn’t see the light of day. So, I’m grateful, now that the elections are behind us, that I’m able to resume Up Bear Creek.

BACK IN THE SADDLE … First of all, thanks to the citizens of San Miguel County for returning me to local elected office for a fifth time. With special thanks to those that worked on and contributed to my campaign, and those who voted Green locally this time around … Campaigning is tough in small communities. So many of the folks we call friends are not on the same political page as we are. And yet having real choices and going to the ballot box to reaffirm or oust elected officials is an important part of the democratic process in our country. I’ve long been an advocate for making the ballot box our term limits (a position this county has adopted). Elections become report card time … Greens have long pushed for Instant Runoff Voting – but Colorado statute doesn’t allow counties to use that system. With IRV (as the Town of Telluride has adopted as a home rule municipality), you vote your candidate choices in order of preference. Basically, it’s like having a run-off vote simultaneous with your first-vote, instead of afterwards. The calculations can get a little daunting, but the winner is always elected with the majority support of the citizens … As it was, once again I won office without gaining a majority vote, since in a three-way for commissioner in Colorado the one with the largest plurality wins. This time I got 42% of the votes cast county-wide – down 6 % from four years ago when I received 48% … Actually, checking comparisons from 2008 it was interesting that only 29 more people voted this time from four years ago in the District 3 Commissioner race (4,118 versus 4,089). Republican Kevin Kell scored the biggest increase by garnering 1000 votes this time (24%) versus Bill Wenger’s 813 votes (20%) in 2008. Democrat Dan Chancellor got 63 more votes (1375 / 33%) than Oak Smith did last time (1312 / 32%). And my numbers dropped from 1,964 to 1,743 (48% to 42%).

GETTING BLUER … Our local election results were only a small part of a larger picture in Colorado that saw our purple status moving into a deeper shade of blue. And nationally, it was a delight to see Obama win (and great to see the president take Colorado, where Gabe Lifton-Zoline, a local boy I got to mentor in politics back when he attended the Telluride School, managed Obama’s state campaign) … As the Watch has reported, the amazing Lynn Padgett won re-election in Ouray County against a concerted Republican push to unseat her. Lynn won Colorado Counties’ Commissioner of the Year award in 2011, and is one of the Western Slope’s brightest political lights. Let’s hope she aims even higher up the political chain next time … Montrose County remained its arch-conservative self, although Dems gave both White and Henderson a run for their money (the two were architects of an unsuccessful water grab that saw Montrose County try to claim water rights and build a reservoir on Zadra and Skalla ranches in San Miguel County) … However, things were different in San Juan and La Plata counties … San Juan has been a rock red county for decades, in spite of the efforts of Dem Pete McKay (my buddy and one third of what Gov. Ritter termed “the ponytail caucus”). Yet, Pete ran unopposed for a third term this year, and long-time colleague Terry Rhoades lost to Dem challenger Scott Fetchinheir (239 to 274) – giving San Juan County a Dem majority for the first time in recent memory … In another blue upset, Dem challenger and long-time oil & gas enviro activist Gwen Lachelt appears to have beaten incumbent Republican Kellie Hotter. Dem Julie Westendorff took the seat vacated by term-limited Dem Wally White (the other third of the “ponytail caucus”). That means, finally, La Plata County will have a majority of Dems in control. And Dem Mike McLachlan beat incumbent Repub J. Paul Brown for the 59th State House seat – a district Telluride would be in, except for a state Supreme Court nix … Viva la Blue! … However, it wasn’t a blue landslide, as Dem Sal Pace lost to Repub Scott Tipton in the U.S. 3rd Congressional District, and Joe Miklosi lost to Mike Coffman in the 6th.

County by county vote on Cannabis Legalization in Colorado

CANNABIS LEGALIZED … When I was a Haight-Ashbury hippie, I thought legalization was right around the corner. And yet it took 30 more years before Colorado and Washington led the nation in turning around the archaic and unscientific prohibition of cannabis (“marijuana” is a racist nickname as popularized by the Hearst newspapers and now commonly adopted in the U.S. for a kind of plant that has been used medicinally and recreationally for thousands of years under dozens of names – I personally refuse to perpetuate the racist term, and prefer its scientific name) … Imagine what Telluride would be like as a resort town if alcohol was still outlawed? How wonderful that we’ve begun to dig ourselves out of the expensive and socially disastrous pit that cannabis prohibition has been.
Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein speaking

FREE SPEECH SCANDAL … Without question, the Dems and Repubs ought to be ashamed that the Commission on Presidential Debates prevented Green presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala from even entering Hofstra University for the second national presidential debate back in October, let alone participating. Stein and Honkala were arrested and handcuffed to a metal chair in a police warehouse in Long Island for eight hours, while Obama and Romney debated … It’s clear that a lot of foreign nations think our “free speech” laws are a joke, when the two major political parties are afraid to hold an open debate with all legitimate candidates and even have opponents arrested and handcuffed to keep them from speaking to a national audience … If you’re one of those that think our system of government is the best and most democratic in the world, think again … Gore wins the popular vote, and loses the presidency. The Supremes allow big money to pour unlimited funds into political campaigns. Stein tries to run as a Green, and is handcuffed to prevent her from debating with Dems and Repubs … Until America gets electoral reform, our version of democracy is truly a flawed system.


San Miguel Election
Night Sky

contrails crisscross
pure cirrus

in streaked cacophony
against a deaf & dumb blue

all of it tinged orange
above the Abajos

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Green Party State Co-Chair Re-Elected to a Fifth Term

This is an ad/poster that my daughter Iris Willow designed for my election campaign, along with a fetching photo by Carl Marcus. I took a break from my weekly column (Up Bear Creek) for a couple months after Shroomfest at the request of the publisher (being a weekly columnist was seen as too advantageous for me as a candidate). But I should be back in the writing saddle in a week or so.

And this is the campaign poster that my son Gorio Osha' created for me. We posted these around the county, although my Democratic opponent was a sign-maker by profession, so he had more and bigger signs for his campaign. Beth Kelly did a great decal, but the image is too big to post.

Anyway, we won. I got 42% (in 2008's three-way I got 49%), the Dem 33% (last time 31%) and the Repub 24% (last time 20%)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Post-Shroomfest12 Wrapup

Photo courtesy of Greg Sanchez (CMS past president)

In spite of the drought in most of the region, this year’s Telluride Mushroom Festival 2012, sponsored by the Telluride Institute, saw plentiful fungi of all kinds, as the heavily loaded identification tables in Elks Park demonstrated this past weekend.

One of my favorite edibles is looked on askance by many – Hawk’s Wing (Sarcodon imbricatus, formerly Hydnum imbricatum). As Wikipedia notes: “It is reported as edible but of poor quality in the United States by some sources, but as deliciously edible by others.Being in the latter camp, I felt wonderfully vindicated when a dish made of its toothy flesh won the Chefs Cook-off this year at the Wilkinson Library.
Sarcodon imbricatus on Lizard Head

We learned from flamboyant University of Wisconsin mycologist Tom Volk (both arms covered in rainbow-hued mycelial tattoos and sporting wildly dyed forelocks) that unbaked bread dough, taken in quantity, could make one drunk, thanks to its yeast content – yeast being a eukaryotic microorganism classified in the Kindom [sic] Fungi, with 1500 currently described species. We also got a hands-on lesson in manipulating yeast to make kombucha and mead from Ken Litchfield of Merritt College in Oakland, California.
Tom Volk

Ethnobotanist Kat Harrison traced the introduction of entheogenic shrooms into Western culture and then compared techniques of use from traditional Mazatec shamans in southern Mexico where she’s conducted years of enthnobotanic research to our own initiatory attempts to incorporate sacred visions into a post-industrial American society unscientifically fearful of anything psychedelic. A panel discussion of hallucinogenic mushrooms as medicine emphasized the growing body of scientific knowledge proving their value, from relieving cluster headaches to providing life-changing experiences of balanced wholeness with the universe.
Kat Harrison

Professional jazz singer Ruthie Ristich of Boston showed a film and gave a talk that acquainted us with the legendary East Coast mushroom guru Sam Ristich, her father, who charmed and tutored legions of mushroom seekers, including our own resident mycologist Gary Lincoff.

Chef Lisa Dahl serving hors d'ouevres

And Lincoff led a special Ophir foray up the Waterfall Canyon trail that culminated in a gourmet mushroom feast, prepared by amazing chef Lisa Dahl of Sedona’s Cucina Rustica, at Bob Kingsley’s spectacular OPUS Hut on the San Juan County side of Ophir Pass. It was my first time ever over Ophir Pass, made all the more thrilling by our driver’s announcement that he was running out of gas on the long climb up the San Miguel side. A friendly jeeper saved the day and gave us enough petrol to make it down safely.

John Major Jenkins

Maya scholar John Major Jenkins explained to us the origins of the Mayan Calendar long count in Izapa, Mexico – how it was tied to startling astronomic observations of the Sun’s conjunction with the center of the Milky Way galaxy and how it was clearly perceived by the Maya as a time of transformation, not a Christian apocalypse.

Myco-historian David Rose expounded on Mushrooms in Science Fiction, Daniel Winkler on Mushrooms in Tibet, and Fungi magazine editor/publisher Britt Bunyard on Mycorrhizatopia – Fungi as the Puppet Masters of the Universe.

Lecturers including a couple of teenagers – Devon Enke of La Veta on Oil-eating Mushrooms and Norwood’s Sklyer Hollinbeck sharing his paper on Myco-Remediation at the Missionary Ridge Fire near Durango. Maya Elson and her cohorts alerted us oldster fungophiles to a new developing group of Radical Mycologists who are marrying social activism to mycology and holding “convergences” around the country.

Attorney Brian Vicente of Sensible Colorado sought support for Amendment 64, the Regulate-Cannabis-Like-Alcohol Constitutional Amendment that will be up for consideration in Colorado’s November election. It’s a measure that makes good scientific and social sense, and I’m publicly a supporter along with Rep. Jared Polis and former Rep. Tom Tancredo (now there’s an unusual conjunction).

Anne Enke speaks at Sunday panel while Teresa Frank and Jo Norris look on

Jo Norris of Arizona’s Rim Institute gave a special workshop on Connecting to the Feminine in Shamanism, and the festival ended with a panel discussion by Norris, Marie Luna, Teresa Frank and Annie Enke on the relationship of plant and fungal allies to world consciousness.

But that’s only the things I got to see and hear. There were dozens of other lectures and workshops that I missed, as simultaneous events took place around town in the Palm Theatre, the Nugget Theatre, the Wilkinson Library, the Swede-Finn Hall, Elks Park, a County meeting room, various foray locations and even Smuggler Joe’s brewpub – where several tasty myco-medicinal brews were concocted especially for the festival.

Perhaps most memorable for me, I had the privilege and delight of leading the annual Shroomfest parade down Colorado Avenue on my birthday – a great way to turn 67. And after such a thought-provoking and ground-breaking festival, the Telluride Institute is already planning for an even better event next summer.

Riding the Amanitamobile (Photo by Sara Friedberg)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Up Bear Creek / 28jun25012

Remembering World War II

PAUL HOMER … I still haven’t seen The War, the seven-part documentary that premiered as a TV series about the American experience of World War II which has just been released on Blu_Ray. But I want to. For those of us 66 and 67-year-olds, conceived in that war but born in peace, we feel pulled in both directions. I find myself working for peace at home and abroad but consumed with curiosity for the inconceivable profligacy and abandon of the war experience … Accomplished Chicago barrister and consummate storyteller Paul Homer (One of the “Great Generation”) has written another collection of war-time stories sprinkled with poetry and funny tales. Memoirs and Lies & Collected Short Stories 2011 he calls it. The war stories take us into the action and the craziness (and even the humor) of things that happened in the European theater. A poem about hearing a rabbi chaplain speak about Hiroshima and the war’s end, embedded in a platoon of prose, is quite moving … The collection includes a number of short stories and classic Jewish tales. I loved the “Moscow Cat Circus” and “Twins” – a most amazing legal tangle that sounds, at least in part, autobiographical. But as Paul hints in the title – this is a mixture of memoir and lies in varying proportions. “Ants” seemed almost the ravings of a borderline psychopath. “Alfred at Rest” purports to be the diary of a very cruel man who gets his comeuppance … Homer is not afraid to explore the dark side. But he makes us laugh a lot. Highly recommended.

PLACERVILLE SCHOOLHOUSE … It was nice posing for a photo at the old Placerville one-room schoolhouse last week as the County closed on Downvalley’s historic icon. Kudos to Linda Luther for the County and Banks Brown for the Telluride School Board (the district owned the building, although the deed has long been lost) for making it happen. Downvalley’s Jerry Albin – the closest thing to a mayor that unincorporated Placerville has -- was there. He’d actually attended grade school in the building as a boy, before going to work for the mines ... County plans are to refurbish this historic landmark and make it usable for community groups again … I remember the commissioners meeting there in the Nineties and lovely Thanksgiving community dinners catalyzed by Pviller Jeannie Stewart. Not that things didn’t get heated there as well. Like the time the County Planning Commission denied the Gray Brothers of Olathe a logging permit or the public meeting I was chairing where two local citizens came close to fisticuffs and had to be separated)  … I think this is exactly the kind of project that citizens hoped to make possible with the County Open Space and Recreation fund. And important for Placer Valley to have it as a valuable community space.

ENERGY PIG … If you’ve not been following Confessions of an Energy Pig, you’ve missed the saga of my attempting to reduce my power usage by more than half. As a part-time bachelor & part-time single dad, the amount of energy I was using three years ago was way out of line for a household of one and a half persons … I know there’s a great program that Eco-Action (aka The New Community Coalition) has been promoting of energy audits, retrofits, etc. I’m just not the type that likes government coming into my house and monitoring my life. Besides, I knew I had some bad practices, reduplicative systems. I worked for a year or so to change those obvious energy drains, and for another year I’ve been publicly tracking the results in my energy bill -- the lag time between the promise of better energy practices and the actual savings payoff. It’s not THE answer, but it’s a simple thing we can all do to begin our personal carbon reduction amidst climate change … According to our cooperative power association (SMPA), in August of 25009 (ANAC) my total kilowatt hour (kWh) usage for the past 12 months had been 16,118 kWh. My May bill for this year shows a total annual kWh usage of 6,766 – a savings of 9,352 kWh or a reduction of 6.4 metric tons of carbon released into the atmosphere (SMPA’s electricity is mostly coal-based). My average monthly usage dropped from 1,343 kWh to 563 kWh … It still means I’m releasing 4.6 metric tons of carbon into the air each year just by utilizing cheap electricity, so it’s no time for complacency. There’s much more to be done. But maybe I’m not too bad of an energy pig, after all, just a wee porker – at least by U.S. standards.

PICKING CHERRIES… Folks call them pie cherries or sour cherries, and indeed they make the mouth pucker up, but I love their sour-sweet-juicy fruit. And this year it’s late June and I’m already harvesting ripe cherries at Cloud Acre. Even the birds weren’t ready for that bounty this early … The apple trees (Macintosh) are heavy with fruit, and (thanks to my irrigation runoff water) I even have a few plums on the tree my dad planted before he passed in 2008. Only the apricots are still playing understudy this season. But I can’t wait until their golden globes also appear in my harvest baskets.


Soul on Fire

Venus just clears the
gray mountain edge,
barely ahead of the sun.

The morning star
blazes for a time
as the sky turns.

She rises along her arc,
growing ever dimmer
in the hidden sun’s surge.

A soul on fire.

-John Nizalowski
Grand Junction

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Up Bear Creek / 21jul25012

Trying to gauge forest conditions pre-settlement

UNCOMPAHGRE PARTNERSHIP… That’s the new name for the Uncompahgre Project – a spinoff of the Public Land Partnership meetings of years ago. But UP has grown and flourished while PLP seems to have faded to a shadow of its old self. I always liked to call PLP a table of trust, and it’s where a lot of us in the region learned to trust each other – regardless of our different perspectives, values and beliefs. But maintaining a “discussion group” is hard, while focusing around real projects keeps people involved … Last week I visited one of the many projects that UP has been involved with. Well, actually, I was invited by Dr. Dan Binkley and Dr. Bill Romme – two professors who’ve been extremely helpful with the Burn Canyon Project and so many other forest health initiatives in this region. They stopped by Cloud Acre for a brief visit, and suggested Gorio and I come join a field trip barbeque UP was hosting at the 25 Mile Mesa Ranger Cabin. Bill even drew me a detailed map … So, Gorio and I drove over the plateau and down the Delta-Nucla Road to the site last Fricay (after a brief high-centering of my backcountry-unfit Honda Civic and a rescue by the good Jim Free) … Besides visiting with lots of old friends who’ve been involved in public land issues for the last couple decades, including Andrea Robinsong, Colleen Trout and Leigh Robertson, I learned what the volunteer crew of 40-50 folks were up to. It’s what they called “forensic forestry”. They are measuring old stumps and downed logs and, by various methods, determining the size and age of these ancient giants, and how they were distributed over the landscape. Bill and Dan want to get a handle on what pre-settlement conditions were like several hundred years ago. It’s hard to bring a forest back to a healthy condition, unless you know what things were like before the agencies started preventing all fires – which served to increase forest density and its vulnerability to disastrous crown fires, especially among Ponderosa Pine … That UP was sponsoring the work was telling. It’s become a focal point for many wonderful collaborative projects in the region. Check out their website on-line and consider getting involved:

STONE BELLY … Had a great time visiting with my friend and mountain bard from the Front Range, Michael Adams. We traded poem performances at Two Candles. Hiked up Dolores Peak from Woods Lake, tracked an intermittent stream in Busted Arm Draw, and scoured the rim of the San Miguel Canyon ACEC (BLM’s Area of Critical Environmental Concern), keeping an eye out for mountain lion … Check this week’s Talking Gourd with one of Mike’s workings from Han Shan’s Cold Mountain poems – a kind of conversation between the ancient sage and a cancer survivor. The kind Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer has with Rumi in her latest book. Mike’s book is If You Can Still Dance With It: Stone Belly & Cold Mountain (Turkey Buzzard Press, Colorado, 2012). Highly recommended.

AFFIRMATION DAY … Constituents have asked me how I feel about the proposal by some Nucla folks to celebrate the Constitution with a new holiday. Certainly, we have lots of reasons to celebrate the U.S. Constitution that’s given this country’s people so many freedoms and such prosperity over the last 200 years … It’s probably also a good idea to reflect on the things that our Founding Fathers got right and the things they didn’t. We’ve come a long way from restricting the right to vote to Anglo-Saxon men of property, and that’s a good thing. But it doesn’t hurt to review what our political system is based on, and how far we may have strayed from some of the essential rights and responsibilities, explicit and inferred, in the nation’s founding document.

PIÑON RIDGE … The outrage expressed by the Colorado Dept. of Health and Environment a month or so back when DOE officials questioned the failure of the state to hold adequate public hearings on the uranium mill license in Montrose County seems pretty spurious now, after the recent ruling in Denver District Court. Clearly the state didn’t do the job they contracted with DOE to do. Gov. Hickenlooper ought to take note. If the Democrats are going to join the Republicans in promoting nuclear power, they can’t cut corners and ignore federal requirements, even if Colorado has assumed uranium licensing authority within its boundaries … Kudos to Sheep Mountain, the Town of Telluride and the Town of Ophir for holding the state’s feet to the fire. When a state agency in the executive branch fails to allow a mandatory public hearing and gets called on it by the judicial branch, you know somebody’s fast-tracking a proposal. Under our U.S. Constitution, the public has a right to know what private industry and local government are pushing through the process.



I’ve climbed ten thousand
rafted the wild frothy waters
of a thousand rivers
I used to laugh at winter’s
frigid blasts
Do your worst, I’d bellow
into the storm
How could I ever have guessed
that one day I’d huddle
in front of the fire
in slippers and heavy robe
at the first hint of frost?

-Michael Adams

Up Bear Creek / 14jun25012

If You Can Still Dance With It
Mike Adams (aka Stone Belly) on Dolores Peak (Goodtimes photo)
 BELLY BOYS … Come hear Michael Adams (aka Stone Belly) perform his poems -- with yours truly (aka Holy Belly) -- at a non-sanctioned Fire Gigglers/TalkingGourds/LoneConePress/NorwoodWritersGuild special event Thursday (tonight), June 14th at 7 p.m. at Two Candles Café & Bar in Norwood. Bring your own poems & we’ll share after … Author of Steel Valley (Lummox Press, 2010 – a powerful mixed prose/poetry account of growing up in Pittsburgh), son of Lew Welch and a favored bard of Dolores LaChapelle, Mike was diagnosed with incurable cancer a year ago next month. He’s just come out with a new book, If You Can Still Dance With It (Turkey Buzzard Press, 2012) with poem conversation/translation/interpenetrations of Han Shan, Taoist alter-ego Stone Belly poems, and his latest coming to terms with “The World As It Is” and “After the Ashes.” In his introduction to the book, Adams suggests that he’s trying to “examine what it is like to be confronted with a life-threatening disease without prematurely seeking answers, solutions or solace.” The poem Send Some Angels is exactly that mix of industrial fumes & staring-monsters-in-the-face lyricism you find in Steel Valley. Plaintalk about “having set yourself on fire / so many times for a woman or a cause” and how “there’s no romance in it.” Hard male truth, and how hope lies with the poem’s final image -- “mountains in the sun.” … 
Checking Rucksack

Mike’s final meditation in realizing how precious each moment of life is and as regards his most recent death sentence, The Ones Who Get the World Ready celebrates those common folk who make the world “solid and familiar” … Mike is a poet of the solid and the familiar. It’s like talking with an old friend. A true bard of place, as well as a devotee of the senses. A Whitman who gives oracular visions of the land we inhabit, and a Han Shan/Stone Belly extracting essences out of life’s brilliant phenomena … Come join us in Norwood Thursday night.

NIZALOWSKI TRIO … Well, at least a duo, as John and Isadora Nizalowski play voice & violin at Caole Lawry’s Planet Earth & the 4 Directions Gallery in Grand Junction (524 Colo. Ave.) on Saturday, June 16th, 7:00 p.m. at the Planet Earth & Four Directions Gallery on 524 Colorado Ave. in Grand Junction. 
John Nizalowski watching Isadora
I get to tag along as ‘Dora’s “godfather” – one of those duties every good Italian boy takes seriously … This event is free and open to all. Call Caole for more info: 970-256-9630.

DROUGHT … Fire bans and water call-ups. Western folks have been talking about over-stocked forests, and urban folks have been talking about climate changes, and it all seems to be coming together – unlike our political parties – in a frightening fire season. Forget about monsoon shroom showers (did I say that?) and let’s just hope for a gullywasher or two this summer.

FIRE … Talking about possible worst case scenarios should this monsoon season bring dry lightning, as predicted, government officials realized that everyone needs to be personally prepared for sudden evacuation, should that become necessary in the case of an out-of-control fire this summer. Our local Intergovernmental meet up at the Mountain Village last week was sobering. Even the possibility that the governor may ban fireworks on the 4th of July was discussed, as happened in the bad drought year of 2002 … We would all do well to be prepared this year. Burning Man may be coming to a backyard near you.
Friend helping prep Spud Patch for planting

CLOUD ACRE SPUDS … Finished up my spud patch this spring. Took me a month to prep the ground and plant some 50+ varieties of potato (59 varieties, by my count, and some 208 mounds). Part of what makes the process time-consuming is keeping accurate records of what was planted where – alternating colors so it’s less likely to mistake varieties in the fall harvest. I plant 3-4 seed potatoes for each variety, and usually keep 4 tubers of each kind for my own seed plantings. I store some for my own food, and the rest is what I sell or trade. Some varieties have been cloned and adapted for the past 15 years at my place (with an aberrant year growing in California, while I was taking hospice care of my dad) … This year I had seed potatoes available at the Norwood Home & Garden Show and Norwood’s first Farmer’s Market. Next year I hope to have full line of unusual varieties to offer folks in the region.

WEEKLY QUOTA … "Poetry is when you can't afford the "v" in poverty." -Doug Haning, Portland Jazz Musician 


Stone Belly’s Poetics

Stone Belly is not gentle
with his poems, does a jig
on the lines to see if they got rhythm,
boogies with the beat, twirls them around
to find there they bend
and break.

After all that, if you can still dance with it,
you know a poem is good.

-Michael Adams

Up Bear Creek / 7jun25012

Local leader appointed to National Forest Service Committee

JOAN MAY … It has been a singular pleasure to work with Joan on the County Board of Commissioners. She is bright, fair, of the deepest integrity and understands the difference between good governance and campaign posturing. Turns out we locals are not the only ones to notice. She has just been appointed to a prestigious U.S. Forest Service’s National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule (Planning Rule FACA Committee) … Both as a National Association of Counties subcommittee chair and as a friend of several members of USFS leadership, I’ve been strongly advocating that the Forest Service utilize the kind of citizen advisory help that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management uses with their Resource Advisory Councils. It’s wonderful to see the agency do exactly that with the Planning Rule and doubly great to have a local political leader chosen for membership on the 21-person group … The Planning Rule FACA Committee will advise and give recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Their duties will include 1) Review the content of and provide recommendations on directives related to implementation of the planning rule; 2) Offer recommendations on implementation of the planning rule, based on lessons learned and best practices; 3) Offer recommendations for consistent interpretation of the rule where ambiguities cause difficulty in implementation of the rule; 4) Offer recommendations for effective ongoing monitoring and evaluation, including broad-scale monitoring, for implementation of the planning rule; 5) Offer recommendations on how to foster an effective ongoing collaborative framework to ensure engagement of federal, state, local and Tribal governments; private organizations and affected interests; the scientific community; and other stakeholders; and 6) Offer recommendations for integrating the land management planning process with landscape scale restoration activities through implementation of the planning rule … This is a feather in the cap of Colorado, San Miguel County as well as Joan herself. It’s wonderful to see her receiving national recognition for the fine leader she is

Mark & Elaine Fischer

MARK FISCHER … It was great to join Elaine Fischer, my other talented colleague on the County Board of Commissioners, past winner and this year’s contest judge Kiersten Bridger and Telluride Arts in honoring the late Mark Fischer with our 14th Poetry Prize in his name last week. The Steaming Bean hosted a great reading including local winners Elle Metrick of Norwood and Beth Paulson of Ouray, a Skype reading by a Colorado Springs winner, and the in-person word magic of first place winner Wayne Lee of Santa Fe.

ED QUILLEN … Ed died of a heart attack last weekend in Salida, where he and his wife and two daughters made their home over the last couple decades. A newspaper editor, founder of the monthly Colorado Central (still publishing), and a brilliantly witty rural columnist for the Denver Post, he cast a large shadow. His grasp of Colorado history was second to none. He successfully used humor to skewer right-wing ideas (and sometimes left-wing ones). He was uncompromising with the truth and unafraid to take positions at odds with many of his fellow citizens … For years he was one of the star speakers/participants in Western State College’s Headwaters Conference (the school is set to change its name to Western State Colorado University this summer). His hotel room, thick with cigarette smoke, was often the haven for long, late-night discussions on a wide-ranging assortment of topics. All of which Ed would expound on with unique perspectives and withering arguments … 
Ed Qullen

He and Martha were generous too. More than once they invited me to sleep at their home in Salida, and in spite of the haze (I detest cigarette smoke – having grown up with smoking parents) I would gather with others in fascination and awe around their kitchen table for more brilliant discussions … He’d cleaned up his act of late. Had stopped smoking (mirable dictu!). And begun to seriously exercise. But the hard-living life of a journalist with its deadlines, public debates and passionate opinions caught up with him … Colorado has a lost a great one. And many of us have lost a dear friend.

SHARON SHUTERAN … Telluride is still reeling from the sudden passing of a local icon – our good county judge. The memorial on Saturday drew a large crowd to the Palm as we all tried to deal with losing someone who was quintessential Telluride. From the government of Bhutan to words of friends and family and an elegant eulogy from Rick Silverman, it helped us face the loss of one who had married community involvement with judicial reserve, fairness with compassion … 
Judge Sharon Shuteran

But, even with the ceremony, it’s still hard to believe we’ve lost her.

PEACE WALK … Join us Monday, June 11th at noon at the county courthouse for our monthly walk down Colorado Ave. for peace. Hard to believe two things – that we’re still doing this (it’s been over a decade!) and we’re still at war.

JEB BERRIER … Heard rumors that our local Douglas “Faux” Fairbanks roasted me at the Telluride School graduation, even though I wasn’t there to defend myself. The comedic cad! But who can take anyone seriously whose name rhymes with derriere? … Be on the lookout, actor man. Revenge is coming.



Blue as the solid ice
in Shelf Lake early June,
hard as tourmaline stone,

Blue sends me sliding
to a gate I cannot open,
though a part of me
could knock it down
faster than a shot
of brandy on
a finger-numbing day,
after hours of climbing
in the snow.

Maybe time never
takes the steam
out of this hot drink.
Maybe there's a root
that digs below,
keeps growing.
Maybe it's just
the ice blue gate
of your eyes.

-Linda Keller

Up Bear Creek / 31may25012

Photo by Melissa Plantz

Kicking off the festival season

MF33 … Lito Tejada-Flores. Rick Silverman. Arlene Burns. David Holbrooke, Peter Kensworthy, Emily Long, Ellen Shelton – my Mountainfilm list is a long one (and hopelessly incomplete, because this festival is a uniquely Telluride event, involving hundreds of local volunteers and boardmembers plus a small but passionate staff) … It’s been the spring gem in the mountains of our festival season since the year I came to town, back in the summer of ‘79, when MF started – two years before Shroomfest .... What local wouldn’t relish the caliber of MF patrons & passholders -- people who love mountain life, mountain sports, mountain quests. And as a liberal bastion in a purple state’s deep red Western fringe, San Miguel County appreciates the conscience that the Symposium has added to our four-day orgy of action cinematography … In global politics, MF has aligned our mountain town with Tibet and against China (“one of the most brutal regimes on the planet”). This year it brought Ai Weiwei : Never Sorry by Alison Klayman – one of the many films I only heard about … And in the national conversation, the Moving Mountains Symposium took on a taboo issue – population. I remember reading Paul Ehrlich’s The Population Bomb in a small cabin in Mendocino that someone had let me stay in for the weekend on one of my weekly hitchhikes north from San Francisco. Must have been 1969 or ’70. It had a big influence on me, as I moved from the strict Roman Catholicism of my youth to the earth-based spirituality that informs my life these days. To have him here, all these years later, trying to tell us the same message – it’s inspiring. And disappointing … My teacher, Dolores LaChapelle of Silverton always called “population” the 900-lb. gorilla in the room that nobody wants to acknowledge. “It’s hopeless,” she’d sigh. And then proceed to suggest myriad courses of action that could lead us into accepting reasonable limits for our impacts as a species. But she knew that animal behavior and human behavior are part of a continuum, for all our beliefs in our own species exceptionalism. And the urge to procreate, feast & multiply is probably beyond the powers of human consciousness to control … In biological terms, Homo sapiens (or, as I prefer, Humus ludens) is a crash population headed for a fall. What the Hopi call, Koyaanisqatsi … From climate change to environmental disasters, MF covered the symposium field with fine films this year.

MASONS THEATER … I love the grammatical push to simplify our written language. “Masons” used to have an apostrophe somewhere, correctly or incorrectly, in the vicinity of “s”. And I remember seeing “theater” as “theatre” for the Masons, as the Nugget has always done. But MF’s program cut to the quick. Gone were apostrophes. Gone the Frenchy spellings for the halls. It was Masons Theater. Nugget Theater. I think it’s the same impulse that leads to Twitter’s abbreviated scripts. And, like it or not, it’s how language works … For the last several years, I’ve had the honor to emcee the Masons, with a wonderful crew of folks, like Brad and Rhoda Green. It’s a lovely venue. Many folks call it their favorite, with its intimate seating, pressed tin ceilings and Masonic drapes … Of course, I get a distorted view of the festival in just seeing a slice of the film offerings – mornings and early afternoons this year … Memorial Day weekend is right in the middle of spud prep and planting season at Cloud Acre, and so I have to get back to my Wright’s Mesa homestead every afternoon to irrigate the potato patch, feed the cats and (this year) clean up the wind damage from those fierce dust storm gusts that hammered the San Miguel Basin

SOME FAVORITESFambul Tok – perhaps the most important film of the festival for me. A poignantly told look-see into a local grassroots reconciliation process in Sierra Leone following their terrible 12-year civil war. If you believe in Nobel Prizes for Peace, one of them ought to go to John Caulker, founder of the Fambul Tok reconciliation process. This film has so much to teach us about the power of forgiveness and mutual healing on a community level. As well as, about the money colonial powers spent on sending 11 men to prison at 200 times the cost of reaching 20,000 villagers in 50 some victimized communities, while having 700 perpetrators apologize and be forgiven. It’s a concept we in the Industrialized nations might seek to explore -- working to bring the wounded and wounders together in a healing community process, whether for physical wars or for the war of words we substitute for violence in the West … Darwin – perhaps the most charming film I saw. By a Swiss filmmaker, Nick Brandestini. It’s been out a year or so to critical praise here and abroad. A climbing into the lives of some dozen or so Death Valley ghost town hermits for an intimate look at all kinds of surprising human issues like marriage, divorce, religion, trans-gender children, a son lost to meth, bigotry, art, the post office. Incredibly sensitively done, In chapters. Nicely edited with a great score by Michael Brook … Terra Blight – This deeply disturbing film, made possible in part by a Mountainfilm Commitment Grant, chronicles the destination of 80% of our “recycled” computer parts in this country – African nations like Ghana, where young children in rubber sandals smash monitors with big rocks to fish out a few spools of metal from a former wildlife lagoon that’s become a toxic dump. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that doesn’t prohibit the export of its e-waste. It’s an international disgrace, and the computer industry ought to clean up its act, before the government acts in the next swing of the federal pendulum … The inspiring Marine Col. Eric Hastings in Not Yet Begun To Fight … Ken Burns’ Dust Bowl … That seriously comedic wizard of the viral and Valley Floor lynchpin, Tom Shadyak, preaching in the Palm about the need for each of us as world citizens to start paying attention to earth’s operating instructions (Yes!)  … And great trailers for local movies-in-progress DamNation and Uranium Drive-In.


Fambul Tok

Welcome filmsters
to Telluride

where we showcase
movies that matter

like these mountains
walking round us

hidden only by the wings
of our theater walls

Come to Sierra Leone
my fellow beneficiaries

of American

Only our daughters
& sons in the military

have had to survive war
We read about it

See frames or films
Allow our leaders

Democrat or Republican
to use it

as what my leftish friends
would call

“a tool of empire”
And so

we’ve never had to
forgive atrocities

to our loved ones
Come watch & learn