Lecturing on public lands for CU
By Art Goodtimes
CENTER OF THE AMERICAN WEST … Once a year, Dr. Patricia Limerick – my good fairy godmother — grants this hippie Cinderella one grand wish – to become the academic lecturer I once dreamed of pursuing, and didn’t. I love it. Talking about Green politics and collaboration and public lands – all tropes that have informed my 19 years in political office. Sharing my unique story — from seminary life, to the Haight- Ashbury, to Earth First!, to working the “radical middle” of Telluride politics — with a roomful of students at the University of Colorado’s Center of the American West … This was maybe the fifth year of being a guest lecturer for “The American West: Making Sense of the Places, People and Myths That Define The Region.” Dr. Limerick was busy with hosting Cornell’s Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, an engineering professor who appears in Josh Fox’s “Gasland II” and who has become an influential figure in the national c l ima t e - ch a n g e discussion for his work on methane emissions from shale-gas development and his recent journal papers on well-head integrity in Pennsylvania. So, her graduate instructor Adrianne Kroepsch shepherded me to the class. And the night before, Adrianne took me to hear Dr. Limerick and Dr. Ingraffea discuss a cost-benefit analysis between advocacy and neutrality. Dr. Ingraffea argued quite persuasively that climate change is so important an issue that it was reasonable for a scientist like himself to step into the advocacy world, and argue against hydraulic fracturing in shale-gas deposits. He cited Einstein’s letter to President Franklin Roosevelt urging him to work on the atomic bomb since the Germans were working on it and it could become a horrendous advantage for them if they figured it out first. Franklin initiated the Manhattan Project in response to Einstein’s letter … However, Dr. Limerick was no less persuasive in arguing that stepping into advocacy diminished the ability of those in the academy to assess both sides of issues from a neutral place, and thus make their conclusions all the more persuasive in the popular mind … Clearly, both positions had their strengths and weaknesses. A lively and important discussion.
THE TALKING GOURD
Don’t say it, show it,
TRUCK … Headed down to Cortez last month to help a friend find a truck. He lives in Port Townsend part of the year … More so since he found true love there. The other part of the year he lives in Naturita Canyon – one of the region’s great draws off Lone Cone. Searching Craigslist in the Pacific Northwest had yielded a couple bytes for him. But they didn’t pan out. However, online he found a couple prospects in Colorado, and since he was on his spring way out here anyway to maintain his ditch, I was supposed to check one out down in Montezuma County … I admit it. I’m not your best shopper/buyer/ scout. If I like the vibe, you can sell me almost anything (except maybe bridges). I tried to remind myself on the way down the Dolores River Canyon all the questions I needed to ask. Things to look for … When I got to the address, turns out I needn’t have worried. The seller was a familiar federal-agency fellow I’d met and worked with before. He and his wife had a lovely spread on the way to Hartman Draw. The truck was spic’n’span. The yard neat. A bunch of working vehicles parked by the garage. I was sold … And when I came back with my buddy a couple days later, he bought it. For what I thought was a good price … My buddy wanted to call it “Elaine,” since it’s a Nissan, and he once knew an Elaine Neeson. But I’ve dubbed it “Rudoph.” Driving that fine green pickup back up the canyon in the dark — after dinner at the Dolores Brewpub (where we got to visit with old friend Cindy from my Lebanon days) — it had this blinking red nose on the dash, screaming “Air bag!” all the way home … No doubt an electrical nightmare to find. But nothing a little black tape can’t fix.
NUCLA … Turns out I have sleep apnea, and the good Dr. David Homer had prescribed a machine that shoots air into one’s lungs at night. So I had to visit Air Option Respiratory Care in Nucla. Got fitted with a shiny new machine. And went home. Only to get a call back from Lori Hood a few hours later – it seems someone had found a couple credit cards of mine outside the building. I checked my recycled wallet/fanny pack (it seemed like such a good idea, except the zipper had broken). A handful of credit cards and other items were indeed missing. I scooted right back to Nucla … By that time it was after hours on a weekday. But Lori was there, patiently waiting for me. She had searched Nucla’s upper main street on that very windy day and found most of my missing I.D. I was hugely thankful. I did a follow-up search and found the rest of the missing items … But I was amazed that Lori had taken the extra effort to search for more than just the cards brought her. And had waited around on her own time, until I returned. All of that for an anti-uranium naysayer who’d made life difficult for many Nucla/ Naturita folks trying to rebuild an historic mining economy in an isolated area … I guess it’s why I love the Western Slope. Even if we don’t agree, we still take care of each other when the chips are down. Bless you, Lori. Bless you, Nucla.
SPEAKING OF NUCLA … Learned from the Dove Creek Press that a new TV show pilot called “Doctor Don” started shooting last month. It’s about Don Colcord, the celebrated Nucla pharmacist whose story in the New Yorker brought his good deeds to national attention. Stay tuned.
CANNABA-WEIRD … According to the Cortez Journal, John Seckman was approved as the new owner of the Beacon Wellness Group, which runs a cannabis retail outlet in Cortez. He recently retired as the agent in charge of the Colorado [Cannabis] Enforcement Division. He told the Journal he’d never tried cannabis and would advise his grandchildren to avoid it … Seems a lot of conservative folks want the right to refuse service to folks they don’t agree with, but want to retain the right to sell whatever makes money. But then consistency in our beliefs and actions is something we all struggle with.
Art Goodtimes is a five-term county commissioner in San Miguel County, Colo.