August 15, 2020

Idaho’s Silver Valley: A Story of Wealth, Tragedy, and Transformation

KELLOGG, Idaho — Completed at a cost of $30 million and opened in 2004, the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes cuts a paved path across Northern Idaho, from Mullan to Plummer, following the course of a long-abandoned Union Pacific line. One of the country’s magnificent rails-to-trails, it’s ordained by abundant natural flourishes that exist in abundance in this part of the Mountain West — tall peaks, forests of fir and spruce, big farm fields, wetlands, …

Read More

From The Global Garden of Embryonic Hope, Safeguarding Oceans

Sylvia Earle, the renowned marine biologist and oceanographer, once called oceans “the real world bank.” She cautioned that people were making many more withdrawals than deposits. On June 10, National Geographic and several more prominent science and conservation organizations convened EarthX Ocean to elaborate on that point. During the two-day virtual conference experts from around the world described the urgent and deteriorating conditions of the oceans and spotlighted a number of useful responses. I was asked …

Read More

Benzie County — Jumpy About Virus and Summer Visitors

BENZONIA, MI – Tucked away on the northern shore of Lake Michigan, the residents of Benzie County spent the final days of winter and the early weeks of spring confident they were safe, but agitated about what was coming. A scenic region of thick forests, clean lakes, and tiny villages, Benzie County lies 30 miles southwest of Traverse City, the nearest sizable city, 80 miles distant from the closest thruway, and 220 miles northwest of …

Read More

American Decency Makes A Splendid Appearance

Not very long after a wildfire’s flames and heat rip through a western forest — in some places a week, in others a bit more — oak seedlings break through the ashes in tight clusters of green. Seeds of golden daisies, Indian paintbrush and scarlet larkspur, stirred by bright light, fresh air and open spaces, appear as little gardens of color on scarred hillsides of fallen trees and blackened soil. The emerging foliage after a …

Read More

Trump’s Call For Opening Puts School Kids At Frontline of Risk and Re-election

You might have missed it this week — a statement by President Trump urging education boards to open schools in September. It’s revealing and, I suspect, politically risky for Trump supporters. “Now when you have an incident, one out of a million, one out of 500,000, will something happen? Perhaps,” Trump said. “But you can be driving to school and some bad things can happen, too. This is a disease that attacks age and it …

Read More

After The Pandemic, A Better Way

BENZONIA, MI — Okay. For the second day in a row I’ve awakened with personal vows. The first is to shed my frustration, my pathology of pissed off, my infernal disgust with the country’s division and its get-it-wrong-at-every-step president. The second is to redirect that stream of contempt to irrigate a meadow of possibility. The Dixie Chicks is one of my favorite bands, ever since 2003 when they publicly and courageously opposed the Iraq invasion. …

Read More

American Mobility Curbed By Pandemic: Oil Sector in Free Fall

Of all the principles that defined American culture and shaped its economy over the last 70 years, arguably none have been as influential as this one: mobility. Think about the salient details of where we live, what we purchase, how we choose our destinations, our work, our social gatherings. Consider the public policy decisions that financed the highways and airports and water systems that spread America out. Don’t forget the economic investments in the apparatus …

Read More

Earth Day At 50 — A Planetary Warning

In 1905, a year before he died, Nathaniel Southgate Shaler published a highly regarded book that advocated “a change in the point of view from which we commonly regard the resources of the earth.” In Man and Earth the famed Harvard scientist described the sun, clouds, soil, and water as a kind of life-giving membrane, a placenta, from which Mother Earth sustains all living creatures. Mindful of the coal dug out of the Appalachians, timber …

Read More

No Mercy in Pandemic Era. Trump Incites Violence With Call to “LIBERATE!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!””LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE VIRGINIA!” Are we in this together, as the nation’s governors insist? Forget about it. Yesterday President Trump signaled — to supporters toting AR-15s — his blanket approval for acts of violence in pursuit of their economic security, particularly in states led by Democrats. The call to arms, such a characteristically Trumpian contradiction, was issued the day after the president made comments at the White House in support of governors who were …

Read More

Social Distancing Saves Lives; Nearly 8 Million WorldWide Since Novel Coronavirus Emerged

One of the really creative and effective men I’ve known in my life is J. Carl Ganter. A native of Traverse City and a skilled photographer, journalist, and filmmaker who trained at Northwestern, Carl and I have done a few very cool things together. We partnered on New York Times assignments in the 1990s. He and his wife, Eileen Ganter, built MLUI.org, the first Web site for the Michigan Land Use Institute that went live …

Read More