February 2010

Plenty International at 35 years

By Art Goodtimes

THE FARM’S FOREIGN AID … I was in San Francisco back in the Sixties when Steve Gaskin started giving his Monday Night Talks, and drew a large following of hippies disenchanted with city living. When he took a caravan of folks to Tennessee to found The Farm, I almost left with them. I didn’t (which is another story), but I did stay in touch with Peter Schweitzer and the small person-toperson foreign-aid program that was founded by Farm idealists. I’ve never given much to Plenty International, but I’ve been a consistent supporter over the years. It’s a charity I believe in. And I’ve received their excellent bulletin, with its stories of its soy-milk project in Guatemala, its kitchen for the homeless in New Orleans, a medical clinic in Liberia and an organic farm on Pine Ridge — among just some of the good things they do … If you have a few dollars that you’d like to see get directly to people in need, send a taxdeductible check to Plenty, P.O. Box 394, Summertown TN 38483, or email <plenty@plenty.org> or check out the website www.plenty.org

THE BON TON … Took my youngest son to dinner at that upscale basement restaurant at the St. Elmo Hotel in Ouray, and amazingly one of the owners came over and welcomed me. He remembered when I used to bring my (then) young daughter (Iris) some 20 years earlier. Wasn’t sure if I should be honored or horrified … The menu has changed a bit since then but the food was delightful as always. Highly recommended.


After Li Bo

The Birds
have long lifted up
as a flock & flown

Only a lonely Cloud floats by
the two of us
lost in our looking

the Mountain & I

BRUCE WHITEHEAD … Not since Dan Noble have we had such an involved and hands-on state senator in District 7 as our new Sen. Bruce Whitehead (D-Hesperus), who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by the amiable Sen. Jim Isgar, who’s moved on but who’s still working for us at the USDA … Bruce’s been to a half-dozen meetings in San Miguel County already, and I’ve been getting similar reports from other commissioners reporting the same thing – attending endless meetings and diving into the thick of regional issues … If you’re of a mind, you might consider sending this good man a little money. He’s going to be worth it. BRUCE WHITEHEAD FOR SENATE, Ken Francis, 820 E. 7th Ave., Durango, CO 81301.

NO NUKES! … According to my wizard e-info freak Lance Christie of Moab, Democratic leaders, with the approval of the Obama administration, have been using the endorsement of nuclear power in the climate-change abatement bill as a means of wooing a half-dozen Republicans who are fixated on building more nuclear power plants. Nuclear power has the lowest energy profitability and the longest development lead time of any energy source — even worse than oil shale, according to MIT studies. When you include the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with mining, milling, enrichment, transportation, and disposal of nuclear fuel, as well as the construction of the power plant itself, nuclear has a rather large carbon footprint. Even if it is true that in the operation alone they don’t emit much in the way of greenhouse gases … Watch for Lance’s soon-to-be-published manuscript, “The Renewable Deal.”

SAN JUAN BREWPUBLIC … Seems any decent town in these parts has got to have its own top-notch brewpub with carefully crafted personalized brews. Cortez has a great one. I love the brewpub in Dolores. Ridgway has just opened a fine one, where the mayor serves up suds, hisself … And even little Norwood has a hopping newly redone brewpub, dancehall, café and video rental, Two Candles. Cheers!

LAO ALERT … A beautiful little warbler inhabiting limestone karsts in Vietnam and Laos has been named a new species. When the limestone leaf warbler (Phylloscopus calciatilis) was first sighted in 1994, it was thought to be a member of the similar-looking species, the sulphur-breasted warbler. But ornithologists began to question that assumption when the bird produced a call significantly different from the sulphur-breasted’s. On closer inspection, researchers found that the limestone leaf warbler has shorter wings and a larger bill proportionately than the related species. Olive-green with a yellow breast and striped crown, the new species is fully described in the most recent issue of the journal Ibis … “The discovery of this new species is very exciting and underscores the importance of this region of Indochina for conservation,” said Colin Poole, executive director of the Asia Program for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “With increased attention from biologists, the Annamite mountain range of Laos in particular is revealing itself as a Lost World for new and unusual wildlife” … The barefaced bulbul, a new and particularly strange bird, was discovered from the same region earlier just this year. The bare-faced bulbul (the first bulbul discovered in Asia in a century) is Asia's only bald songbird … In 2002, the same region revealed a species of rodent called the khanyou or Laotian rock rat, the last representative of an extinct family. Discovered by Robert Timmins of the WCS, it is considered “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. In 1999, Timmins also discovered the Annamite striped rabbit in the same area, which remains largely a mystery to biologists although it is commonly hunted … The limestone warbler was discovered by a team of scientists from WCS, and other agencies… For a photo, go here: http://news.mongabay.com/2009/1221-hance_warbler.html

Art Goodtimes is a San Miguel County commissioner.