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Spring Wears the Clothes of Winter and a Smile

It’s becoming a tradition in the Pacific Northwest. Prize-winning Portland playwright and poet William S. Gregory sends his solar season’s tribute to the cycles of the sun. Enjoy. -Editor . . . → Read More

Reading Off the Charts Book Reviews: Mink River

Oregon Coast at Nightfall by Patrick Hudson

Mink River, destined to become the quintessential, post-modern novel of Western Oregon life, embraces magical realism as the only brush possible to paint all the colors seen. Even though it takes place at the Coast rather than the Valley, City or High Desert, and is very embedded in the strata of the Pacific Marine ecosystem, its themes of timeless stories that live through generations and the changes that time works, is an everywhere theme, an anyplace kind of experience. Maybe that is one of the factors that makes Mink River so universal in spite of specific terms of unique place. . . . → Read More

Forbidden Love and the U.S. Interior Dept.

Spencer Creek Middle Branch

Late the other night or really early the other morning, a cold, damp pre-dawn, stars appearing between tattered clouds, we heard a pair of owls calling. We hear them most in spring and fall. Most likely a mated pair, they called out to each other as they cruised through tunnels of air space between the trees hanging over Spencer Creek. One was farther up, one farther down. They stayed in almost constant communication for hours. Their voices fluctuated with distance and tones. But they sounded like the spotted owls of years past, or their cousins, the barred or maybe the new hybrids, the unwanted mixed offspring. Their calls are very similar. So are their genes. Only the humans seem to have a problem with the barred or hybrids. . . . → Read More

Water

The ice and snow that has persisted all week here in the hills is thawing at last. The air is still. The profound quiet tells me that the easterly air flow has weakened. When the wind is in the east, we hear the hum of the distant freeway and the pleasanter sounds of train whistles. Perhaps it will rain in a day or two. I’ll miss the pretty patterns of thin ice stretched across puddles, the ice sculptures and tiny castles rising out of the mud, and the glistening frosty mushrooms which I know will dissolve into black slime once they thaw. But rain will be welcome. Even though the soil is saturated and the creeks and rivers are running full, our land wants more. West of the Cascades the Pacific Northwest is a water world. . . . → Read More

An American Original: Louis Bromfield

Louis Bromfield and Roswell Garst, Malabar Farm, 1954, courtesy of {link:http://www.ohiohistory.org/resource/audiovis/munroe/}The Ohio Historical Society{/link}, the Joe Munroe Archives

In 1786 homesick Thomas Jefferson, in Paris, wrote a letter glorifying his Virginia farm: “And our own dear Monticello…with what majesty do we ride above the storm!” Political tempests would come and go. The one thing that tormented him unto death in 1826, however, was the ever-rising river of debt issuing from “dear Monticello.”

In 1932 homesick novelist Louis Bromfield, close by Paris, wrote a note, singing of his youth on an Ohio farm. “It was a good way of life” he recalled, having “in it two fundamental things which were once and may be again intensely American…integrity and idealism. Jefferson has been dead more than a hundred years but (these) things are immortal.” Seven years later, he moved back to Ohio and built America’s most famous farm, vowing to create “a world of my own or die trying.” As it turned out, he did help usher in a new world of sustainable farming. But his farm’s rising river of debt lead to his early death.

While it’s unfair to compare even an imposing . . . → Read More

DNA and Nuclear Desecration

As we gaze nervously at our beloved West Coast that was battered a few weeks ago as the tsunami hit (relatively mild on this side of the Pacific) we remember the nuclear power plants perched above the rocks at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon over the mirror image of subduction plates that has so altered poor Japan. In the Northwest we have the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (clean-up seems to have no end) and the Richmond Plant. As we pray for the people of Japan, we also pray for ourselves that we will never have to face such a crisis. But it is more than possible. It may be a matter of time. -Editor

Our attention is riveted by the daily worsening of the Fukushima crisis, but there’s a different way of looking at nuclear disasters. It involves seeing all nuclear industries as an ongoing disaster. If accumulating radionuclides on the planet is unacceptably risky then operating nuclear power plants, that inevitably create radionuclides, is disastrous.

The individual releases of man-made radionuclides are each tragic and far more destructive than we are being told, and their number and scale are not really being placed in the public consciousness. Each individual release does not stand alone but is part of the ongoing . . . → Read More

Nuke Power Madness

Like every other president since the 1940s, Barack Obama has promoted nuclear power. Now, with reactors melting down in Japan, the official stance is more disconnected from reality than ever.

Political elites are still clinging to the oxymoron of “safe nuclear power.” It’s up to us — people around the world — to peacefully and insistently shut those plants down.

There is no more techno-advanced country in the world than Japan. Nuclear power is not safe there, and it is not safe anywhere.

As the New York Times reported on Monday, “most of the nuclear plants in the United States share some or all of the risk factors that played a role at Fukushima Daiichi: locations on tsunami-prone coastlines or near earthquake faults, aging plants and backup electrical systems that rely on diesel generators and batteries that could fail in extreme circumstances.”

Nuclear power — from uranium mining to fuel fabrication to reactor operations to nuclear waste that will remain deadly for hundreds of thousands of years — is, in fact, a moral crime against future generations.

But syrupy rhetoric has always marinated the nuclear age. From the outset — even as radioactive ashes were still hot in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — top officials in Washington touted atomic energy as redemptive. The split atom, we were to believe, could be . . . → Read More

Toward Restoring the Special Trust: the BLM v. the Public

Dear “Friends and Countrymen,”

After many years as an “eco-warrior” in Lane County, I moved to Portland to retire and write my book. Of course I haven’t done either so far, as environmental issues keep calling me. (I guess it is a calling.)

Currently, my organization Save Our ecoSystems inc (SOS), and several other groups and individuals throughout Oregon, have appealed a huge and very dangerous plan by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or Bureau for Bad Land Management, if you like.

Back in the 80’s, SOS and several other organizations won injunctions against BLM spray programs. One went all the way to the Supreme Court, followed by an order from the Departments of the Interior and of Agriculture to cease and desist spraying the public forests–period. There had been widespread revelation by the people, and by scientists, that were making headlines–the herbicides were putting both animals and people at risk for birth defects, contaminating waters, animals, fish and breast milk, plus a long list of threats to wildlife and all living beings. I, for example, became a diabetic for life, like so many of the Vietnam Veterans. It was heartbreaking to watch our young farm animals die, despite the best of care, and to see baby goats born with birth defects. They were spraying Agent Orange in forest . . . → Read More