Tuesday, March 22, 2016

10mar25016 -- CFLRP, Dr. Bill Romme, Berta Cáceres, Double D jazz, Hands on a Hardbody, Steve Rubick, KVNF and a poem by Rio Coyotl

Working collaboratively with the Feds
& the State on behalf of forest health

CFLRP … The Uncompahgre Plateau’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Project held its annual stakeholder meeting in Montrose last week. Since San Miguel County has a stake in the USFS-driven initiative, I got to attend -- the only elected official in a roomful of CSU scientists and Forest Service line officers and field workers … The most recent phase of County’s Burn Canyon Monitoring Task Force project was funded through this group three years ago. Another scan of the Burn Canyon longitudinal study -- set up to indicate whether salvage logging negatively, positively or neutrally affects forest regeneration -- is slated for next year. Linda and the late Phil Miller of Telluride worked tirelessly to get the original Burn Canyon citizen science project off the ground … It was encouraging to hear Dr. Tony Cheng of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute cite the influence of our pioneering Western Slope collaborative -- the Public Lands Partnership, of which San Miguel County is a contributing member – as one of the reasons the Uncompahgre Plateau CFLRP was formed and has been successful nationally in bringing special grant treatment dollars to our local forest … And while impressed by all the presentations -- from Todd Gardiner’s implementation accomplishments to the spruce regeneration study by Dr. Seth Ex’s graduate student, Ryan Davy – it was Dr. Bill Romme’s aspen browse study that knocked my socks off … Contrary to long-accepted forest dogma, browsing cattle, deer and elk don’t appear to have significant impacts on aspen regeneration, except perhaps locally. In fact, according to Romme, it would appear that average annual difference across the forest between unbrowsed and browsed aspen seedlings was just over a foot change in growth. And that was mostly from deer and elk. Cattle had relatively little impact … However, local conditions were a large influence, and Romme tempered his findings by explaining that site specific factors had to be taken into consideration, as completely opposite results were seen in different parts of the forest.

BERTA CÁCERES … The assassination of this indigenous environmental leader in Honduras last week has precipitated international outrage … Josh Nichols and Leila Serafin of Norwood both worked with Cáceres, protesting a disastrous dam project on native lands in that Central American country. They were in shock at the murder of their friend … Since the military coup that ousted the rightist-turned-leftist Manuel Zelaya-Rosales from the presidency, violence in Honduras has escalated precipitously. According to The Guardian (British), “Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, trade unionists, gay rights activists and political opponents of subsequent regimes have been singled out for abduction, disappearance, torture and murder in a climate of almost complete impunity” … Women particularly have been targeted. In 2014, 513 women were killed and in 2015 it was estimated that a woman lost her life every 16 hours in Honduras ... Cáceres founded the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH) and last year was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize. In her acceptance speech, she appeared to foreshadow her own death, when she noted that “giving our lives in various ways for the protection of rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet” … International Rivers and other international groups have called for foreign investors and engineering companies to withdraw from the Agua Zarca hydropower project that Cáceres had been opposing at the time of her murder.

DOUBLE D JAZZ … Nice to have jazz back on main street for more than just jazz fest season. Arroyo’s hosted the Double D group last Friday and they were cooking.

HARDBODY SHINES … Don’t miss Sasha and Colin Sullivan’s latest comic musical extravaganza in the Palm. You won’t sit in the cushy seats of our lovely, if  cavernous, aerodrome of a hall, but right up on stage. All the singing & dancing. Right in your face … And not just all laughs. Tackling prejudice and tragedy full-on. A Texas car lot promotion gone bad … Funny for sure. Serious sometimes. And in the end, happy. Like a good comedy should be.

LEAP DAY … D.J. Steve Rubick of KVNF explained his problem with February’s Leap Day last Monday. “It’s the wrong month,” he told his listeners. “They ought to set it on the 5th of July, or sometime when it would be of use to the people. Make it a holiday!” … Must say, I kind of agree. It’s a day out of time in the calendar, and it ought to be placed somewhere other than merely tagged on to our shortest month. In the middle of winter.


They brought bulldozers
We brought the Volkswagen bus
A land of machines

-Rio Coyotl
Wright’s Mesa

Friday, March 4, 2016

3mar25016 -- CRISPR, Scalia, FRESH Food Hub, Erika Moss Gordon, Pagosa Springs Sun, and a poem “Leaf Litter.”

Editing the human genome
Erika Moss Gordon (Art Goodtimes photo)

CRISPR … Scientists around the world are wringing their ethical hands, as this new technology breakthrough promises the alleviation of many inherited diseases, but also a dark side where designer babies could become a reality… As Nobel Prize-winning biologist David Baltimore told the The Week last month after an international gathering of scientists calling for a moratorium on inheritable human genome editing, “Everything I’ve learned here says we’re not ready to be doing this yet”  … It didn’t make the Science News top science story of 25015 (2015 CE). Pluto did.  But CRISPR came in a close second … What is it? A new way to edit genes that’s cheap, quick and precise. Imagine splicing new film onto an old reel – cutting, inserting, and rolling things into motion. That’s what this revolutionary technique is capable of with the DNA helix – using an enzyme (Cas9) like a molecular scissors to snip a particular spot, insert a new gene, and stitch everything back together … CRISPR is already being used to create genetically-modified crops, to create a strain of mosquito with malaria-blocking genes that pass on to following generations, and theoretically might be capable of removing genes to cure single-gene defects like Huntington’s disease and other tragic illnesses … Last year a team of scientists under the direction of Harvard geneticist George Church successfully copied Wooly Mammoth genes from frozen tissue and pasted them into the genome of an Asian Elephant. Next they want to inject them into an elephant egg cell. The hope – to create a mammoth-elephant hybrid that could survive outside of Asia and Africa … Genetically, things are moving fast. The future is uncertain. But for sure, you’ll be hearing more of CRISPR in the years to come.

SCALIA … As a member of the radical socialist middle, I feel like Paul Rosenberg in Salon, “Good riddance” … I wrote critically about Nino’s dictum, “Text is king,” when he came to speak up at the Mountain Village a couple years back. His “originalism” -- that hewed, more or less, to a strictly literal, almost royalist interpretation of the Constitution -- I found in direct contradiction to Lincoln’s vision of a nation by, for and of the people. Although Scalia wasn’t always consistent. In Bush v. Gore, The Week “cited his nakedly partisan, circular logic”. To my mind, changing circumstances require changed interpretations to fit the reality of post-modern life, not absolutist adherence to 18th Century values … As Law Professor Eric Posner wrote in Slate, Scalia’s “originalism” was more pose than philosophy. It let him pretend that he was politically neutral, while scorning his colleagues as activist hacks … But a different picture emerges of the man when you read the personal account of a seminary classmate of Greg Hobbs and I, liberal professor of constitutional law at Valparaiso University in Indiana, Ed Gaffney. It’s quite touching. Send an email to shroompa at gmail dot com and I’ll gladly forward you the account.

FRESH … Norwood’s new storefront Food Hub, sandwiched between Happy Belly Deli and US Bank, opened for snacks & good conversation this past Sunday, thanks to Leila Serafin and friends. Structured as a membership coop, FRESH hopes to sell local food and become a hub for local community food efforts. Come check it out. And become a member, like I did.

ERIKA MOSS GORDON … Under the new management of Norwood émigré Sara Doehrman, the Cimarron Bookstore in Ridgway has starting doing poetry readings. Gordon was the featured reader at a 5 o’clock performance Sunday, and it was outstanding. Erika writes strong, often short, lyrics – stripped down to essentials. But lush with imagery. Her pieces were captivating, and the full-house audience enthusiastic. She was celebrating the publication of her second book, Phases (Middle Creek Publ., 2016) with its daring impressionist cover that looks at first like a landscape of gentle hills, but on closer inspection turns out to be the breasts of a reclining nude … Although wholly her own person, Erika reminded me a lot of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer – an excellent performer of her work, a poet with great heart and powerful insights, and a beautiful human being … Buy her book. Highly recommended.

PAGOSA SPRINGS SUN … One of the smaller regional newspapers made national press in The Week’s “Wit & Wisdom” column this month, with a quote from the late Robin Williams: “Music is God’s little reminder that there’s something else besides us in the universe, a harmonic connection between all living beings, everywhere, even the stars.”


Leaf Litter

Too often cocooned
inside, busy with
the 10,000 things

Took the time today
to watch sunset’s sepia
bronze the San Juans

The clouded sky blazing
molten gold, until
dulled by night’s shadows

Knowing soon enough
the trembling aspen leaves
not yet budded

will curl into litter
on layer like uncut lawn
& what once burned

will turn, McRedeye
sez, & ask us too

to lie down