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72 minutes | 6 days ago
Craig Childs - "The Madness of Disassociation"
Craig Childs makes a point of going to the very places he’s writing about and immersing himself in them. In The Secret Knowledge of Water, he traces his very being into the rock itself by mapping waterholes in the Cabeza Prieta. In House of Rain, he follows the Ancestral Puebloans across the desert, walking in their footsteps to gain a particular kind of understanding. In Virga and Bone, he immerses himself in aridness and walks through it with curiosity directed at his very affinity for it. In Apocalyptic Planet he backpacks through cornfields in Iowa, among other similarly wild trips, because, as he puts it, “that’s the way I prefer to be in the world.”In this episode, Craig joins us from the front porch of his home in western Colorado, with snowflakes swirling around him and ravens croaking in the junipers. He talks about how stories are not the place but show the shape of a place. He shares several examples of how stories tend to repeat in the same places over and over again simply because of the geology, or other mysterious (but possibly simple) factors science hasn’t yet caught up to. We decided to save ghost stories for another time. We ask Craig to share his thoughts on the many obstacles that can keep us from connecting deeply to place today. He touches on social media, the internet, and other things that can remove us further and further from the land. This removal results in disassociation, Craig says. “We won’t remain disassociated as a species and survive,” he continues, “because then you don’t care about anything.”We discuss the conundrum of being descendants of white colonizers, while at the same time being rooted in the places where fate has deposited us. Craig believes that we have a responsibility to give back to these places and their people who have given so much to us. Much of his work is an effort to do this. “I’ll be dead and gone before I ever really figure out what needs to be fed back to this place and the people of this place,” he says. “But at least I can get close, at least I can do my best.”Finally, Craig reads from his journal, excerpts that may or may not make it into his forthcoming book about rock art, to be published by Torrey House Press. Craig Childs has published more than a dozen books. He has won the Orion Book Award and has twice won the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award, the Galen Rowell Art of Adventure Award, and the Spirit of the West Award for his body of work. He is contributing editor at Adventure Journal Quarterly, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men's Journal, and Outside. He is a contributor to the blog “The Last Word on Nothing.” He has a B.A. in Journalism from CU Boulder with a minor in Women's Studies, and from Prescott College, an M.A. in Desert Studies. An occasional commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, he teaches writing at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and the Mountainview MFA at Southern New Hampshire University. He lives outside of Norwood, CO.He is interviewed by Zion Canyon Mesa’s Ben Kilbourne.
44 minutes | 2 months ago
Is the Water Wet? - Lake Powell Pipeline Part 3 with Jane Whalen
Having created historical context for the pipeline in two previous podcasts, In Site now explores the pipeline itself. Jane Whalen, board member of Conserve Southwest Utah and Coordinator of the Lake Powell Pipeline Coalition, was the primary architect of their collective, incredibly thorough and detailed one hundred and eighty-six page objection to the pipeline (see link below). Quite simply, nobody involved with the pipeline understands it better than Jane. We focused on the pipeline because the Zion Canyon Mesa intends to actively participate in critical issues directly facing our home here in Washington County. In these strange, unmoored and disturbing times, it seems that part of the problem is we simmer too long in disconnected online ethers, then break into reality off kilter, and with increasing violence. We believe that rooting firmly in our chosen landscapes and communities will provide an immediate level of stability and sanity, and suggest a path forward as well.We prioritized the pipeline issue because it was one of about sixty projects nationwide that the Trump administration placed on their Fast Track. This greatly compressed some review processes and outright dismissed others; approval seemed imminent. However, that suddenly and utterly changed when the six other states of the Colorado River Compact (see the previous podcast with Eric Kuhn) submitted a joint letter to Utah threatening lawsuits, saying there were any number of Compact issues needing resolution before even entering a Fast Track. Utah’s two pipeline proponents, the Utah Department of Natural Resources and the WCWCD, responded by immediately withdrawing for at least two years to address the Compact concerns. To Jane’s credit, the issues she helped raise in the Coalition review match those expressed by the other Compact states, so our review here will touch on these comprehensive concerns.Finally, we want to act as an honest broker for respectful dialogue about such issues. As such, this podcast was originally going to feature a dialogue between Jane and WCWCD representatives Zach Renstrom, General Manager, and Karry Rathje, their Communications & Government Affairs Manager. We want to really thank them for their willingness to participate in this discussion. However, recent events allow us all to step back and take a deep breath. We hope that Zach and Karry will join us soon so they can speak for themselves. At stake: do we, the citizens of Washington County, collectively want to invest perhaps $2Billion of our tax dollars into this project?
73 minutes | 3 months ago
American Zion - Betsy Gaines Quammen Interview
“A map of the American West is a Rorschach test; people see what they want to see as reflections of who they are.” Betsy Gaines QuammenBetsy’s conservation work in Mongolia with Buddhist monks on fisheries and in Bhutan for snow leopards centered on finding common ground between religion’s ancient roots and the modern precepts of conservation. After continuing such work with Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders in the U.S., she was drawn to the idea of exploring these possibilities with a uniquely American, relatively recent religion, Mormonism. Writing her PhD dissertation on the early, successful collaboration of the federal government and LDS leaders to create Zion National Park in 1919 led her to explore the Mormon principles emerging in current public land battles. She discovered a heady, distinctly American brew that sits of the intersection of religion and prophesy in Mormonism and cowboy mythology. This culminates in the emerging militia movement and the Bundy’s belief that the U.S. Constitution is sacred text, that their public lands crusade is divinely inspired and those who oppose them are not just wrong but evil. Betsy Gaines Quammen is interviewed by Zion Canyon Mesa board member Kirsten Allen. Kirsten is Co-Founder, Publisher and Executive Director of Torrey House Press, where American Zion was published this March."This book is like a skeleton key, unlocking so many complicated, and largely unquestioned, myths of the West." —ANNE HELEN PETERSEN, BuzzFeed News
55 minutes | 4 months ago
Daniel Kemmis - Citizens Uniting to Restore our Democracy
Today we talk with Daniel Kemmis. Daniel studied both philosophy and political science, and names Plato, Rousseau, Jefferson, and Gandhi as his primary influences. He was minority leader and speaker of the house in the Montana State Legislature during the ‘80s, when the Sagebrush Rebellion was at its height. Later, he served as Mayor of Missoula. The intense dysfunction of those times, together with the fiercely contested land issues, inspired Kemmis to write the seminal book Community and the Politics of Place, and develop the Kemmis method for finding compromise.Some years back, Zion National Park’s gateway community of Springdale was deeply divided from intense growing pains, verging on violence to where county sheriffs needed to attend town meetings. Zion Canyon Mesa’s Chairperson Louise Excell, together with artist Lynn Berryhill, created the “Embracing Opposites” conferences to address this division and invited Daniel to share his methods. Here, Louise interviews Daniel to discuss those ideas, the remarkable repercussions of “Embracing Opposites," then dive into his latest book Citizens Uniting to Restore Our Democracy, which he wrote as a response to these even more contentious times.We recorded this episode on the eve of the 2020 election, but even after, it is clear that our country is divided, and our democracy begs for a practical path forward. One of Kemmis's lodestones is Jefferson's vision of educated citizens deeply involved in public life. He argues that our loss of capacity for public life parallels our loss of sense of place. "A renewed sense of community, rooted in place, and of people dwelling in that place in a practiced way can shape politics into a more cooperative, productive, and satisfying enterprise." Daniel says that this sense of place and sense of community is made more difficult by the failure of citizens to insist that corporations adhere to certain standards for the common good. He argues that corporations cannot be citizens in a true sense and that their power over our lives thwarts our own efforts at active citizenship. “If a corporation is going to call itself and claim the advantages of being a corporate citizen, it must put its shoulder to the wheel, and help build. Left to themselves, of course, corporations are not going to practice citizenship in this way. The main reason is that they are not inhabitants in the same way that other residents of a place are. The corporations’ chief loyalty is not to the place but to the shareholders and executives who almost always live somewhere else.”
65 minutes | 4 months ago
Photography as Medicine - Russel Albert Daniels
The Spanish enslavement of Indigenous peoples across the Southwest was an immense market in humans, second only to that of African Americans. Severed from their lands and cultures, how did some of them create a path forward? Who are the Genízaro? How can Catholicism and Indigenous traditions coexist, perhaps even synergize, in one community? And how can photography act as medicine?Today we talk with documentary photographer Russel Albert Daniels. He begins with the incredible story of his great great Grandmother Rose, who was captured from her Diné homeland by a band of Utes and sold to a Mormon settler in the Uinta Basin. We will talk about how this story led Russel to the Genízaro people in northern New Mexico. This project titled "The Genízaro Pueblo of Abiquiú" is in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and can be viewed here. It's Part One of Russel's series exploring Native American slavery in the Southwest.He is interviewed by Zion Canyon Mesa’s Ben Kilbourne.
58 minutes | 5 months ago
Richard Grant Interview - The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi
Here we explore the ongoing repercussions of slavery, observed through the microcosm of Natchez, Mississippi, with Richard Grant, in his fifth book “The Deepest South of All.” Moving from England to Mississippi, Richard brings this distinct perspective and keen, compassionate eye to try to understand the “sleight of mind” that America still maintains about our greatest original sin. In Natchez, he found a town that both studiously maintains its Confederate “Gone with the Wind” mythology but also elected a gay black man for mayor with 91% of the vote. In its time, it was the site of both the second largest slave market in the U.S. and the most millionaires per capita; of course, those two are directly related. Richard never intended to be a writer; we talk at first about his path from England to becoming a New York Times best-selling author. Then we address the multi-layered, deeply human complexities that enable both slavery and collective forgetfulness, and its ramifications for today. In this moment of Black Lives Matter and an America in perhaps our most disturbing identity crises since the Civil War, Richard’s insights couldn’t be more timely. Please see the Show Notes for links to Richard and his works, and feel free to comment.
60 minutes | 5 months ago
Is The Water Wet? - Lake Powell Pipeline Part 2 with Eric Kuhn
Eric digs into how politicians ignored drought data to create the 1922 Colorado River Compact, and how that intentional myopia continued for almost a century. Today, the entire basin must finally reckon with what has been true all along; that the allocated water just is not there. He busts two foundational myths along the way, one about the science and data, and the other about water use. He then situates the Lake Powell Pipeline (LPP) into the present moment of truth, setting the stage for our next, perhaps final podcast about the LPP itself. We say “perhaps,” because if this story continues to unfold as dynamically as in the last couple weeks, we will need another podcast later to keep up. To wit: ALL the other basin states just signed a letter threatening court action unless Utah commits to resolving key LLP issues through the Compact itself, per the agreement. Utah responded by asking the Bureau of Reclamation to extend the deadline for their environmental study, giving everyone more time and breathing room. This steps the LLP back from President Trump’s “Fast Track,” which he has conferred on about sixty other projects nationwide, including Washington County’s Northern Corridor Highway. Stay tuned…Eric Kuhn is the co-author of Science be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River. He was General Manager of the Colorado River Conservation District (CRCD) for twenty-two years. The CRDC is a government entity formed in 1937 which oversees Colorado River basin issues for the state. He is also author of any number of papers about Colorado River water use and law, including an excellent piece linked in our Show Notes about the crux, upcoming 2026 Compact summit.Eric Kuhn1922 Colorado River CompactInkstain BlogScience Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River by Eric Kuhn and John FleckThe Colorado RiverImperial ValleyAll American CanalImage from space Rivers of Empire by Donald Worster Pat Mulroy and the “Valentines Day Massacre” for Las Vegas water - (the “Massacre” bit is about ¾ the way down, but the whole article is worth reading) Royce Tipton 2007 Interim Agreement - Record of Decision and American Rivers Article2019 Drought Contingency PlanTesting the Drought Contingency Plan 2026 Colorado River Compac
60 minutes | 6 months ago
Barry Lopez Interview "What Do I Mean By My Life?"
“No one can miss the alarm now in the air.” Barry Lopez, “Horizon”He was born on the Epiphany of 1945 and died this Christmas. During a reading years ago, he created a spell of silence over the crowd with a particularly compelling piece. He could have taken a personal bow, but instead simply said; “English is a beautiful, powerful language, isn’t it.” He kept a “piece of eight” from a 17th century Spanish shipwreck on his desk, not because it was cool; “I keep this coin to remind me of the capacity of human beings to destroy other human beings on a massive scale for money.” Almost immediately after our interview, the Holiday Farm fire in Oregon razed his property on the banks of the McKenzie River, arguably a result of climate change he so passionately wrote about. Soon after, he died. On a recent springtime walk surrounded by budding vine maples, well into his prostate cancer, he talked about these disturbing times and, on losing hope, said; “how embarrassing to give up when everything around you is growing.”He spent thirty years writing his final book, the masterwork “Horizon.” Somehow, he recognized its ending back then, just an old man walking down a narrow road in Port Famine, Patagonia, with crested caracara falcons inexplicably spaced evenly along the way in quarter-mile increments, watching from fenceposts.Some “Horizon” quotes and unfinished phrases as enticements:· “The treacherous void between ourselves and the world…” · "The neurosis of consumerism…"· "…the weight of the horror we force on one another in our manic quests for greater satisfaction."· “We are creating our own evolutionary pressures…” · Of destroyed indigenous tribes: “Each eventually became another torn prayer flag, snapping in the wind over burnt ground.” · “As our own cultures continue to unfold around the riptides of aggressive commerce and heedless development…”· Our survival demands an “unprecedented level of imagination…some capacity hinted at but not yet realized.”· We are “…creating a spatial and temporal dysfunctionality, that increasingly produce despair instead of hope.”· The storyteller creates “a place where wisdom reveals itself.” · We need to adapt to technology without “pharmaceutical help.” · “…cynical corporate manueverings to secure the last waters…” · “… we shimmer with intentionality, erotic grace and balletic capability…”Farewell Barry.
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