HELENA… One of the downsides of being in national leadership on the National Association of Counties is having to attend the Western Interstate Region meetings three or four times a year. It’s a coalition of 11 western states that, like Club 20, purports to speak as the primary voice for its members. Its focus is mostly public lands management, and while there are a handful of issues progressive counties like San Miguel would agree with, mostly it’s ultra-conservative in its attitudes – opposed to wilderness, wary of any environmental law, and taking every opportunity to badmouth the Feds … Flying up to Helena two weeks ago was fascinating. I’d never been to the Montana capital, and it’s a colorful place. Our late night tour of the capitol building was a treat – seeing the lovely Charles Russell mural masterpiece on the House side of the ornate dome (valued at $45 million) … But the meeting was far less valuable. I counted 22 attendees on the WIR board – of those 21 were men, 20-21 were conservatives, and there was one (maybe two) progressives (me and one Republican from New Mexico – social liberal but fiscal conservative) … Nice folks, and it was instructive listening to their views, but nothing most San Miguel County constituents could agree with.
TONY CORBIN… John Corbin was a mainstay of the Telluride Mushroom Festival for 28 years until his untimely death last year. Many of us still mourn his gentle giant self – as kind and generous a man as I’ve ever met. And we were delighted that Ed the Norwood Marshal brought his bagpipe to the Shroomfest parade this year, in memory of John … So, when John’s son Tony (who still comes to lead forays for the festival) announced his marriage in Kansas City, I had to go … And a delightful event it was, with a beautiful (short) service and a lovely (long) reception. All blessings to Tony and Val.
HEADWATERS … Mark your calendar. Nov. 11-13. It’s Western State’s annual conference in Gunnison exploring issues of relevance to the headwaters region of the Southern Rockies, where the rain that falls runs to the Pacific and the Atlantic both. San Miguel County sits on the Pacific side of that divide, but the conversation is one that has increasing relevance for our watershed and which has intrigued me for a couple decades … More on this next week.
QUIVIRA COALITION … Courtney White made a grand transformation in his life, from Sierra Club leader to rancher advocate. His group is bridging the gap between environmentalists and the ranch community who depend on the land (and their knowledge and conservation of it) for their livelihood. I’ve been a speaker at their annual conference before, and found it fascinating and incredibly instructive. This year their topic is “Using Stewardship to Build Soil and Fight Climate Change.” You’ll get a chance to hear leading proponents from around the world speak to the ways to build soil faster, increase local food production, improve the water cycle, reduce atmospheric CO2, and re-think business-as-usual practices … Courtney likes to talk about the “radical center”, or what I call the radical middle. If you want to see how we can move beyond lawsuits into real action to protect the future, attend the annual conference in Albuquerque, Nov. 10-12 … For more info, go to www.quiviracoalition.org
THE TALKING GOURD
What would Rumi say
to those blowing themselves up
like starbursts at a Sufi shrine?
“Killing nine & wounding 65”
As though keeping score
was a votive offering to the Beloved.
And the black hole of a bomb’s heart
flowering arms & smeared light
was a fearsome explosion of love.