Friday, April 8, 2016

24mar25016 -- Colorado College, National Toxic Land/Labor Conservation Service, Sarah Kanouse, Shiloh Krupar, Mushroom Cloud Redeye, Ken Salazar, Colorado Cares, Doc Dachtler

Weaving culture & 
politics in Colorado Springs

Participants in the TLC charrette at Colorado College

COLORADO COLLEGE … Ever hear of the Dept. of Interior’s National Toxic Land/Labor Conservation Service (TLC)? I was invited this past Saturday to attend a design charrette for TLC at Colorado College (CC) in the Springs for a prospective National Cold War Monuments and Environmental Heritage Trail. It sounded quite interesting. And it was that, and more … But TLC isn’t connected to government. It’s an art project -- a speculative government agency to address the environmental, human health, and cultural impacts of the American nuclear state. It even has its own website ( … Since 2011 it’s been an on-going multi-media brainchild of accomplished artist, writer, filmmaker and professor of Interdisciplinary Arts at the Northeastern University, Sarah Kanouse, together with her TLC co-director Shiloh Krupar, who is  cultural geographer and professor/field chair of the Culture and Politics Program at Georgetown University … Kanouse’s research-based creative projects trace the production of landscape through ecological, historical, and legal forces, with particular attention given to the environmental and cultural effects of military activities. Her award-winning, feature-length film, Around Crab Orchard, addressed how the politics of conservation and environmental justice are imbricated with military and penal economies deeply in an American wildlife refuge … Krupar’s work has focused on the politics of nature conservation, environmental memory, and labor/compensation issues at decommissioned military sites and nuclear facilities in the western United States, and the curatorial practices and spectacular spaces of the future in post-socialist urban China. Her first book was entitled Hot Spotter’s Report: Military Fables of Toxic Waste, and she is currently writing a co-authored book, the Museum of Waste, with C. Greig Crysler (UC Berkeley) … Kanouse and Krupar assembled an interesting group of young and old folks, nuclear advocates from the West End, anti-nuclear activists, local government (me), former DOE and Rocky Flats officials and a smattering of students, professors and community people. We spent the day doing exercises, tracing maps, proposing monuments and examining the nuclear legacy of the Cold War in Colorado from multiple perspectives. That alone was instructive and illuminating … But maybe the best part for me was hooking up with Jane Thompson and Sharon Johannsen (the Catt sisters) of the Rimrocker Historical Society (RHS) in Nucla. They were wonderful to work with -- respectful, collaborative and funny. Even though some of us came from a very different place than they did regarding nuclear history, I learned a lot by listening to them. And I ended up buying two historical volumes I hadn’t seen, Standard Chemical Company (RHS, 2007) and Uravan, Colorado: One Hundred Years of History by John S. Hamrick, Diane E. Kocis, and Sue E. Shepard (Umetco Minerals, 2002) … The charrette was a fascinating process, produced a lot of drawings and ideas from participants on how we might memorialize the atomic legacy of the Cold War, and made for me a lot of new friends … I expect we’ll hear more from Kanouse and Krupar as their project moves from state to state. So far both Illinois and Colorado have held TLC design charrettes.

MUSHROOM CLOUD REDEYE … As a poet, I wrote a long anti-nuclear rant some 40 years ago, but have rarely had a chance to read it. I thought the occasion of the TLC event might be a great opportunity. So my community activist friend from Manitou Springs, Steve Wood, hooked me up with CC’s Ruthie Markwardt who arranged an evening reading in the basement of Shove Chapel that turned into a marvelous gathering of groups like Concrete Couch, Citizens for Peace in Space, Food Not Bombs (providing free food), First Strike theater, Alterni-Tee t-shirts, peaceniks, musicians and community organizers. Poets and presenters included Aaron Anstett, Janice Gould, Luke Cissell, Sarah Hamilton, Mary Sprunger-Froese, MJ Sullivan and handful of others … It’s wonderful when the arts can be a catalyst for community-building.

KEN SALAZAR … Always fun to read the Colorado Spring Independent – a bastion of liberal politics in a pretty reactionary region. Was especially interested to read Ralph Routon’s column, “Between the Lines,” in the Mar. 16-22 issue. He quotes sources suggesting that former state Attorney General, Colorado Senator and Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar is on the short list for Hillary Clinton’s vice-president … As Routon notes, “What’s not to like Salazar as VP? For starters, he’s as spotless as politicians come – and qualified. He’s spent much time in D.C. and, more importantly, he’s served alongside Hillary Clinton as a fellow Democrat in the Senate and then inside the much tighter circle of the [Obama] Cabinet” … Salazar campaigned successfully for Hillary in Nevada and Texas, and recently introduced Bill Clinton when he came to speak at Colorado Springs last month.

COLORADO CARES … A visionary group of citizen activists are pushing for Colorado to take the health care issue by the horns and wrestle down a Colorado solution to skyrocketing health care costs and inadequate insurance coverage … Imagine financing a comprehensive, high quality health care system for every Coloradan, and saving money at the same time … The losers – managed health care “middle-men” providers. The winners – everyone else.


Nosin’ Around

Scott Kelly just returned
from a year in space.
When a supply ship
from earth docked
and the hatch was
opened , you could
get a whiff of what
space smelled like:

“Burnt Metal!”

-Doc Dachtler
Nevada City (CA)

1 comment:

  1. That's interesting... speculative government v operative government. Sounds Masonic. I'm glad there are folks out there working on our New Atlantis. And Kelly's space should smell like burnt metal. It makes sense. A metal and plastic target in a blast furnace of rays (pick your ray). Great Spirit can smoke anything you got.


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