January 2010

Let's support the Chief

By Art Goodtimes

PRESIDENT OBAMA … Goddess, I love repeating that honorific. I never thought it would happen in my lifetime. It goes on to prove to (radical) me the power of our political system, for all its flaws and genocidal historicity – we are an imperfect union, as Obama likes to say. But we can change. … As a politico myself (albeit a minor local official), I see things differently from folks on the right (and left) who have begun to berate Obama for any number of things. Expecting huge changes in the ship of state in just one year — after eight years of war and profligate spending, I think that's a mite unrealistic. Contrary to the talking heads, there have been real and substantive changes in our government — changes that don't make the headlines but which signal a significant redirection for executive agencies (particularly in areas I am personally familiar with: forest health, environmental protection, climate change) … As for the war(s) in Iraq and Afghanistan, I'm a dedicated peacenik. I have been part of a group of local community leaders that have marched the length of Telluride's main street (without a permit) every month since 9/11 — in memory of those killed in that attack, those of our military sent overseas on bad intel and those citizens of other countries fallen in our (misguided) pre-emptive first strikes in the Middle East. But to assume that merely pulling out of the geopolitical mess made by the previous administration is going to well serve American interests is naïve. Having stepped into international doo-doo, we need to clean things up before walking off into the sunset ... Finally, I think the press didn't point up what a huge change in direction, attitude and tone Obama revealed in his speech to the Arab world in Cairo. That was a big deal, even if Americans haven't fully recognized its importance. That speech alone — not to mention our changed posture towards the U.N. and international conventions and treaties (from nuclear proliferation to climate change) — was worth the Nobel Peace Prize. If only for symbolizing the world's hope for a different America where the Statue of Liberty's flame once again burns bright and Wall Street no longer runs the White House … Obama has given me hope that things will change. And I'm giving him a full term’s support to see what changes he can accomplish before I start succumbing to disappointment or invective.

THE TALKING GOURD

The Day We Said
Goodbye to Gracie

Dog walking 44ZN
towards the gravel pit
after the wake’s applause.

A horizon of clouds
backlit & for a moment
illuminated

like Mind
finding the right
Word.

Watching our maverick Star
take her leave
behind the Henrys.

Going pink. Going
fierce rosé
& gone starry black.

GIFT BOOKS … Western Eye Press is back on the shelves with Telluride ex-pat Lito Tejada-Flores’ latest breakthrough how-to: “Soft Skiing: The Secrets of Effortless Low-Impact Skiing for Older Skiers” (Western Eye, Sedona, 2010) and it’s a godsend for a paleohippie like me. Last year I finally let my youngest son teach me to ski. What a blast! And now Lito comes along with a dazzling tour-de-force guide just for over-the-hill powder hounds like me who turn out not to be so over it after all … Ophir’s own Corinne Platt has teamed up with Redstone writer/photographer Meredith Ogilby to bring us “Voices of the American West” (Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, 2009). It’s a beautifully done compendium of some of the most interesting and influential folks making waves this side of the Rockies – from Charris Ford to Dave Foreman, Katie Lee to Joy Caudill, Gary Nabhan to Patricia Nelson Limerick … And, of course, who would miss gladdening the heart of one’s dearest friend with San Miguel Poet Laureate Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer’s latest poem/picture collaboration, “Intimate Landscape: The Four Corners Region in Poetry and Photography” (Durango Herald Small Press, 2009)? Claude Steelman is a fine photographer with national credits and a dazzling Southwestern eye. Rosemerry’s poems lift the spirit and cheer the body. It’s a don’t-miss.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN … My friend Rick Hollinbeck’s been taking this prestigious intellectual review of American technical advances forever. But, being in politics, I tend to depend on staff briefings and partisan info sheets for my scientia (L. “knowledge”). But, finally, brow-beaten into Norwegian submission on a recent visit up Ed Joe Draw, I succumbed and got a subscription to real science … What an eye-opener! To find out that “phase entanglement” in quantum particle physics may apply to the macro- as well as the micro-level, like shamans and new-agers have been saying for years. Or to see the orbital shape of atoms in newly pioneered images using a field-emission microscope … Imagine my surprise in coming upon an article entitled, “A Path to Sustainable Energy by 2030: Wind, Water and Solar Technologies can Provide 100% of the World’s Energy, Eliminating All Fossil Fuels” by Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi. Here I’d been arguing back and forth with the editors of the Nucla-based San Miguel Basin Forum about energy — thinking that we needed to take the traditional middle path (both a Buddhist and a Christian notion) and slowly move towards alternative energy while maintaining a transitional foot in the old energy sources like coal, natural gas and maybe even nuclear. Wrong! … Perhaps there are some coal-gasification proposals that might work while we make the big transition. But, clearly, the future is not coal or nuclear (and only to a limited extent natural gas) … If Nucla were smart, it would at least embrace solar concentrating plants and conversion of the Tri-State power plant to biofuels as potential future backups, instead of locking itself into a recurring extractive boom/bust scenario with coal and uranium (the West End of Montrose County is currently courting a Canadian company that wants to build a new uranium mill in the Paradox Valley) … If you can believe Scientific American, we really could run our economy exclusively on wind, solar and water by 2030, if we had the political will http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030 … In addition, SA has created an interactive website to demonstrate exactly what Jacobson and Delucchi are talking about. Check it out: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=powering-a-green-planet

MONTHLY QUOTA … “What is the beauty in leaves falling? / To whom are we beautiful as we go?” –David Ignatow

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.