Tag Archives: national parks

From Italy to our National Parks and Forests to Lincoln Park: a NYT opinion piece plus some..

Timothy Egan recently wrote a piece about our National Parks and Forests, the envy of the entire world, a fluke almost in a land-grab world of power and exploitation (The Geography of Nope, T. Egan, 9/29/12).  It’s a pretty good read, check it out.

And of course, since it’s the crazy season, there’s a real live and imperative political angle…Not that Obama has been any sort of champion at all of the free and open spaces that grace our country, he hasn’t.  But Romney tipped his hand, showing that he would deal a devastating and permanent blow to the gems that define America “…earlier this year when he told a Nevada newspaper that ‘I don’t know what the purpose is’ of all this federal land in the West. It would be nice to think he just doesn’t get it, because he’s never spent any time in the free outdoors.”

The issue that Egan takes up reminds me of our recent run-in with the “think creatively: minds in Seattle’s Parks and Recreation Dept. that came up with the idea for a tree-top zip line with concession stand and ropes course in the middle of one of our few remaining urban sanctuaries and old growth forests, Lincoln Park.  The response was quick and decisive but you have to believe that they are back at the drawing board trying to figure out how to monetize the park by the square foot.  It’s almost a carbon copy of the national urge on the part of a few:

The states, of course, are cash-strapped, and want these lands only so they can industrialize them quickly, with minimal regulations. If you want to know what our public lands would be like under states in the pocket of oil companies, just look at the closing days of George W. Bush’s presidency, when drillers pressed to scar up land near some of the most iconic national parks and monuments in the Southwest. Only a change in administrations, and lawsuits that back the people’s right to manage the lands properly, stopped them in their tracks.

Second — and more importantly — these are our lands they want to take away. The toddler in Tuscaloosa has equal claim to the stunning Vermilion Cliffs outside the Grand Canyon as does a cowboy in Arizona. One day, when we are a nation of 600 million, these community-owned treasures will be all the more valuable.

And that last part is the part that will challenge the small thinkers who are driving monetization: the importance of our free and open lands will only grow as the lack of free and open land decreases.  And not just for us, but for all migrating animals and birds, for an entire ecosystem that requires space and diversity and a multitude of resources we scarcely recognize.

So, dear Seattle City Council, Mayor McGinn, Parks Dept: I ask you to think in terms of a broad and varied portfolio of open space.  Some quite urban, some urban sanctuaries, some tiny, some quite grand.  Don’t apply a single rule of $X per SqFt to evaluate what we have that makes this city liveable.  Think truly creatively, think really big, think for the long term.  Consider existing city parks like Central Park and Golden Gate park.  No cheap, short term tricks but rather a vision of the gems we have becoming even more valuable with time.

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Real Americans vs. what… Un-Real Americans?

I personally love how politics is so happily intertwined with Scobleizer’s blog. It’s a risky thing to do because people will criticize your POV and that could impact your credibility in other, non-politicized subjects you undertake.

But another part of of me, the one that loves the political geekery of Scobleizer, wonders if the open minded perspective that runs through his brand of politics doesn’t also form the basis of his views on web apps, the open source movement, social networking, vast info sharing, and all the rest. I think it does.

So recently, I enjoyed his post where he borrows Dave Winer’s post on I am not an American. Dave lists all the ways that he is not an American, according to the extremely narrow-minded right wing definition of who is an American.

And in no small part did I enjoy this post because it joins in a growing chorus of the bigger US who do no fit in the narrow mold offered up by so-called real Americans–we are all growing so tired of this nonsense, at once dangerous and silly as only divisive rhetoric can be.

So let me add to the list:

I am educated, have advanced degrees, and am bi-lingual. I also like really good cappuccinos. I guess I am not an American.

I enjoy an open mind, even though sometimes it’s challenging, and really do want to learn new things from people who don’t think exactly like I do. I like diversity, I really do. Apparently I am not an American.

I am part of a network of people who think small changes to one’s carbon footprint really does make a difference, if only because we have to start somewhere and becoming conscious is a great place to start. I am not an American.

I am a lesbian, and have lived through calamitous times to fight for my rights. I have been subject to judgment and discrimination but still I know most people do not wish me harm. My friends, neighbors and family support my non-sanctioned relationship; after nearly 20 years together, I look forward to a legal marriage, even if it means going to another state to do it. I am totally not an American.

My government has helped me go to school and university, has set aside some of the most gorgeous areas on the planet for my own enjoyment, and has created and maintained highways and byways that I can travel–land, water and air–to go anywhere I want, has laid the foundation for a sense of safety and help in disasters, and has helped my city and state to make hundreds of changes that lead to a better environment. Proof, I am not an American.

I do not belong to an organized religion and admit that I wonder if organized religion will be the ruin of us all, but I do have a spiritual practice that involves buddhist meditation. There you have it, I am not an American.

I believe our government has saved our collective ass at key points in history and does best with more, not less, participation from each of us. I believe a democratic government can and should help us all be better global citizens. I am not an American.

I believe our public schools have been the envy of the world in the past, but are not now, and that the whole system is being undermined by the same fear-based forces that refuse to see themselves as part of a greater whole, part of a global community. I am not an American.

I believe we have an opportunity…no, a duty to lead the world in thinking about global climate change first, with greater technology and creativity, and the willingness to participate in change at a local, individual, state, national and global level. I am not an American.

Finally, I am very very proud to be part of that large group out there that doesn’t fit into the divisive, narrow confines of what the vocal unreal-american minority calls Real America.