Monday, April 9, 2018

Retired and slow to catch up

I started working on this site in my last year as commissioner, and things have still not settled down enough to get back to speed on this blog. But I'm hoping to at some point. Meanwhile, I'm off to Chile at the instigation of this good man who suddenly died on us in New York City last month -- Gary Lincoff ... All quiet on the Cloud Acre front for a while, but I hope to be back...

Saturday, April 30, 2016

17mar25016 – San Juan County (UT), Phil Lyman, Donald Levering, Jean Bower, Flynn Magnum, Rosemary Bilchik, Amy McBride, Patricia Limerick, Uche Ogbuji

Our neighbor’s legal
scrapes over in Utah

 SAN JUAN COUNTY … Utah, not Colorado. They’ve been having legal troubles over there … Chair Phil Lyman led a band of four-wheelers into a restricted area last year, got himself arrested and convicted of illegal entry and personally fined a goodly amount in damages … Now the county majority – Lyman and Commissioner Bruce Adams -- have failed to do due diligence in not redistricting their commissioner and school districts after every census. They apparently failed to understand (or hire a lawyer to research) a Federal judge’s consent degree from 1984, ending their previous practice of dividing up districts so that Navajos were never elected as commissioner. Two years after that ruling, Mark Maryboy was elected to the board, and San Juan County has had one Navajo commissioner ever since … However, the Native-American population has been growing, and the county is now divided about 50-50 Native and Anglo. In 2011 the Anglo-American commissioners decided to redistrict, leaving the “Native-American” district untouched and merely changing the two “Anglo-American” districts so as to keep them safe for two Anglo-American seats (The vote was 2-1, the Navajo commissioner dissenting).  The Navajo Human Rights Commission sued in Salt Lake City’s Federal Court. And U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby ruled in their favor … However, Lyman and Adams are threatening further lawsuits. Sonja Horoshko has an excellent article on the matter in the March issue of the Four Corners Free Press … She quotes Lyman as saying, “They’re taking a non-problem, and making it problematic … A group of Navajos have decided to use redistricting to be vexatious. Their motivation is spite and malice, and it will continue” … Leonard Gorman, head of the Navajo Human Rights Commission, sees it differently. “We tried to work with the county commissioners in 2011,” he told the Free Press. But to no avail.

RASH OF DEATHS … My heart goes out to grieving families of loved ones who’ve left us suddenly, inexplicably. Death is a difficult burden to shoulder, and the mystery of another’s leaving can haunt us for a long time.
Jean Bower

TALKING GOURDS … We had a nice group of gourditas y gourditos at Arroyo’s a couple weeks back … Donald Levering is a fine craftsman of the word, and if you close your eyes, he takes you to the most marvelous of places … Jean Bower read her quiet, poignant lyrics with enough gravitas and elder humor to keep us all entranced … And there were lots of shared poems, texts, songs and autoharp -- as once again we passed the gourd.

LAKE CITY … I don’t get to go there much. It was a favorite of the Club 20 folks when I belonged to that oil&gas booster group back at the turn of the millennium. And you can’t blame them. It’s spectacular country, and the county courthouse is a gem … But I got to know Commissioner Flynn Mangum, along with his cohorts Linda Matthews and Allen Brown, at CCI – the infamous Colorado Counties, Inc. There we found ourselves on the same side of the great divide between the Front Range (all the flat east to Kansas) & the Western Slope (a true slope from the Southern Rockies to the Mormon border). Rural v. City. Water v. Thirst. Handshakes v. Contracts … I counted all three of those folks as friends, politically and personally. Flynn had a gregarious smile and liked to make us laugh. A great fellow to have in a convention hospitality room packed with politicos … Flynn. Who passed away, suddenly, last week. A great fellow … Lake City’s loss, and ours too.

A WIN FOR ANTI-FOGGERS … For several years I’ve been following an on-going struggle between several chemical-sensitive landowners in Delta County and their malathion-loving neighbor. Jim Hopper has continued to use an industrial fogger on his place, in spite of a judge’s permanent injunction in 2012, after having been found to be committing “chemical trespass” and exacerbating toxic symptoms experienced by Gordon MacAlpine, who has a rare form of leukemia, and his partner Rosemary Bilchak … Last month Hopper was sentenced to two days in the Delta County Jail and fined $7,500 for contempt of court, in not obeying the court’s injunction … It’s a win for those all those who eschew chemical pesticides and believe their home and land should not be invaded by toxins from a neighbor’s property.

POTPOURRIAmy McBride is stepping up to the plate and running for Ouray County Commissioner. Progressives all over the Slope look to support her …
Out past Carnation Rd. in northern Montrose County coming out of Olathe on U.S. Highway 50, check out the Louisiana-Pacific eyesore that’s been smartly refurbished, repurposed and seems ready to put people back to work in the region and to rejoin the local tax rolls … Kudos to the new State Historian Patricia Limerick, who heads up the Center of the American West at CU Boulder. One of Colorado’s most brilliant.



Oh you mile of eyes!
Sweet-booted lass from the grange
Lending my city minute
A frontier's lifetime. Please, Ma'am,
Do you have any spare change?

-Uche Ogbuji


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

7april25016 -- Gernot and Ava Heinrichsdorff, Dr. Gustón Guzmán, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Finding friends where once
our nations had been enemies

Ava and Gernot at home in Colorado Springs

GERNOT HEINRICHSDORFF … I met Gernot through his wife, Ava, back in the early ‘80s, when I was a TCAH (Telluride Council on the Arts & Humanities) director. She was a folk dance teacher and we hit it off immediately. Her father had been a well-known Hungarian violinist in San Francisco, and we had that West Coast connection from the start, plus a shared cosmopolitan perspective rare to find in America. Plus, she was (and is) one of the wisest, most vibrant elders I have ever met – a writer, poet, world traveler, teacher, student, dancer. I hope I keep that precious gift of curiosity all my life, as she has … At first I knew Gernot as a landscape architect – one of those sturdy, get-it-done kind of fellows who could lift impossible loads, move giant rocks, and make creative spaces outdoors for everyone to see, admire and use. He reminded me of my Norwood buddy Jim Rosenthal – that kind of German-American laborer who could do twice the work of anyone else, and do it faster and better … It was only gradually, over the years, that I learned that Gernot had been born in Germany, and had served in the German army in World War II. That was a bit of a shock. My dad had served in the Army Air Corps. And Gernot in the Luftwaffe, although a lack of gas towards the end of the war had prevented him from any combat missions. Here was a man I’d become good friends with, and yet he had been “the enemy” of my father. It was fascinating, and confusing … Gradually I learned his story. He had been drafted into military service, like so many Germans -- loyal to their country, if not the Nazis. In fact, many Germans did not follow Nazi rules. His mother risked her life to harbor two Jewish boys from the ghetto all through the war  -- saving them from certain death – his mom treating them as his brothers … Not being political, Gernot hadn’t realized that mandatory participation in Hitlerjugend as a youth, where he learned gliding, had automatically registered him with the Nazi party. It wasn’t until he was wounded and then captured by the Americans that he learned he was a “Nazi.” That he was eventually able to make a new life in the country of his “enemies” was a true blessing … Over the years the three of us had had many a meal and shared many stories, since I had to visit Colorado Springs, where Ava and Gernot live, annually for political meetings. They’d often let me stay with them in a spare bedroom. Once I joined Gernot for his morning walk in the Garden of the Gods, his daily ritual for many years. It was a marvelous, delightful amble, admiring the spring flowers, the chill air, the glimmer of light on the fantastical rock formations. It was the kind of walk I would have liked to have taken with my dad. One of those bonding moments you remember fondly the rest of your life … This last time I went to the Springs, Gernot was not walking any more. He’s 93. Things aren’t working very well. He needs oxygen. And even a walker is of no use. Ava, of course, is there to take care of him. But we still managed a delightful visit, sharing stories, and memories, and laughs … And Gernot and Ava gave me a book – a collection of tales about Germans who survived the war and mostly immigrated to the United States: Voices From The Other Side by Jean Goodwin Messenger (White Pelican Press, 2014), which includes Gernot’s own story. The biggest surprise was how tragic and terrible the war had been for the German people, as it had been genocidal for European Jews. But then, that is the reality of war. It’s the leaders who champion war and the people who suffer – at least when the war overruns your home and you lose family members, friends, belongings – sometimes everything … The stories in the book break your heart. Enemies or allies, it’s horrific to understand what war does to people caught up in it. Like what is happening in Syria, or Iraq, or the Sudan today. It brings home to me how important it is to avoid war at all costs. To exercise restraint, and favor diplomacy. To protect civilians … I feel so lucky to have met Gernot and Ava and come to understand how nations make enemies of people who could easily be our friends, if only we have the opportunity to get to know one another. As we have done.

DR. GUSTÓN GUZMÁN … The world fungal community mourned the death early this year of world expert on Psilocybe mushrooms, Gustón Guzmán. A co-founder and former president of the Mexican Mycological Society (1965), he was also founder (1990) and president of the Latin American Mycological Association (2000–2002) … I had the great good fortune to meet Dr. Guzmán, while attending the Third International Medicinal Mushroom Conference at Port Townsend in 2005, through the kindness of Shroomfest myco-guru Paul Stamets. I worked the lights in the meeting hall where Dr. Guzmán lectured. Afterwards, a clutch of us followed him off-stage and out back of the hall on the grounds of Fr. Worden, a converted military base. We peppered him with questions, and got wonderful answers. He quickly led us – at the prompting of a local -- about a hundred yards into a forested area, knelt down and picked several nondescript brown mushrooms from the ground, and declared them Psilocybes. Several of us volunteered to bio-assay them. And for the rest of the day I was entheogenically absorbed, having been given them from the hand of the legendary Dr. Guzmán. An honor I will treasure all my days.


One Lesson in Generosity

from another room
white scent of lilies—
like that, says the heart, like that

-Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Western Slope Poet Laureate

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

31mar25016 – The Independent People’s Party, Robert Jason White, Loey & Louise Gerdts, Jim Loan, Mari Boyd, Our Inner Trump, Jack “Budada” Mueller, Rafael Jesús González

Remembering Louise Gerdts & family

Louise Gerdts (Photo courtesy of Lori
Worman Gerdts)

LOUISE GERDTS … Loey and Louise Ringqust were quite the double team when I meandered into town. Weezie owned the old High School, where I attended dance classes on the second floor with Jeri McAndrews. And my daughter Iris went to pre-school -- until one wing of the old building’s roof collapsed under the snow load. Luckily not during school hours. And almost miraculously, the ceiling debris spared the one corner where a teacher (couch-surfer? – who remembers now) had spent the night sleeping. The rest of the room was catastrophe’s aftermath -- which she had to climb through to get to the classroom door’s only way out … So many memories. Louise, Joern and Loey were some of the few locals who hunted mushrooms back in the day – before the Wild Mushrooms Telluride conference became a festival … And they knew about Tesla. And all kinds of other interesting things. Interesting people. And now all three of them gone. And another chapter of changeling Telluride slips into the shadows ... Bless you, Louise. You made a fine home here. We’ll miss you.

JIM LOAN … Had the good fortune to run into this good man – former interim headmaster at the Telluride Mountain School – while at University of Denver’s state spelling bee with Norwood’s spelling champion Mari Boyd a few weeks back ... Jim was in good spirits, looked fit (he works out at the DU gym) and said to say hello to all his many friends in Telluride.

SPEAKING OF MARI … Norwood folks flocked to the Livery last weekend for “The Sister Soprano Arts & Talent Performance” which featured, Ms. Boyd, Cidney Priestley and Sophia Watkins singing and dancing their way into our hearts. A delightful evening.

ROBERT JASON WHITE … Campaign emails are circulating in Telluride’s cyberspace from this newcomer to our community -- touting Brian Ahern as the county’s great “White” hope (despite numerous scrapes with the law and convictions for menacing). And this curiously unknown Roger-come-Whitely alleges corruption, conspiracies and all kinds of unsubstantiated malfeasance in county government … A one-man PAC for Ahern, White himself was been registered in Fort Collins as unaffiliated, but registered last week as a Dem in San Miguel County. According to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office, he has never voted in an election in Colorado ... His email addy “,” is packed with inaccuracies and yes, lies. But such is the price we pay for our freedom of speech. Just be aware that there are candidates and their supporters out there (not to be out-trumped) spouting all kinds of untruths this election season … So don’t be alarmed at certain outrageous statements you may read in the media or see in your in mailbox over the next few months. Know your sources.

OUR INNER TRUMP … “You gonna vote for Trump?” the Montrose mechanic asks with a laugh. He knows I’m a Green Democratic Socialist Sanders die-hard, even without the giveaway bumpersticker … It’s not that he’s a big fan of Trump. He just wants someone bully enough to kick the whole D.C. bunch “out on their asses.” Ordinary people, who’ve been on the receiving end of the 1%’s economic shaft, appreciate Trump’s calling baloney on the Republican white-gloved elite’s punching Wall Street loopholes for their country club buddies. They also like Trump’s roasting of the Democratic urban elites and their penchant for more spending, more regulations … I think my mechanic represents a lot of America – fed up with government from here to the Beltway. Fed up with gridlock. With failed promises and competing philosophies that don’t ever play nice. Whatever happened to working together with your ideological opposites and finding middle ground -- for the greater good of the Republic? Lost, I suppose, with the Reality TV rhetoric … Sometimes my buddy McRedeye thinks it’s time we evolved from an imperial two-party centrist behemoth to a more egalitarian multi-party coalition government. As it is, the patriots’ originalist vision of a republic with competing checks & balances appears to be fraying at the modernist edge … But with the entire world dependent on America’s holding steady the Post-WWII helm in the Nuclear Age, I’ve come to believe that wholesale change would be catastrophic. On many levels. And so, we are stuck at the head of a World Economic Empire with what Pres. Obama rightly calls America’s “imperfect union” … To that end, I call on all my fellow citizens to unite under a reaffirmed ethic of liberty – with an emphasis on freedoms and tolerance. Ensuring justice and opportunity for all. Let us hold to our different visions, but let us also work together to achieve the best balanced choice possible -- in seeking the good of the people … Maybe it’s an Independent Peoples Party we need, where centrists -- right-wing and left-wing -- meet in the middle and collaborate to make reasonable compromises (from the Latin for “sending [something] forward with [the help of others]”) … Impossible? It may seem that way. But as the hermit poet of Log Hill Village, Jack “Budada” Mueller would say, “All power to the paradox.”


Ritual para Jueves Santo

Llegan como mariposas
de largas distancias,
otros países, otros continentes,
pies cansados, gastados,
heridos, polvorientos
de cruzar ríos, y montes,
selvas y desiertos
huyendo hambre y asesinos.
Y nosotros que vivimos
en el imperio que los desplazó
podemos hacer no menos
que lo que hizo el Maestro:
tiernamente lavarles los pies
y decirles, "Les tenemos lugar
puesto en la mesa."

-Rafael Jesús González

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)