Month: February 2017

In Lowndes County, getting free means getting infrastructure

By Danielle Purifoy  ·  Scalawag  ·  February 13, 2017

Catherine Coleman Flowers lives in a planned suburban community in Montgomery, but her heart is in Lowndes County. She grew up in Black Belt, a small unincorporated community neighboring White Hall.

Catherine Coleman Flowers lives in a planned suburban community in Montgomery, but her heart is in Lowndes County. She grew up in Black Belt, a small unincorporated community neighboring White Hall.“I would go walking by myself, I would pick plums, and I would walk through the corn fields,” she said. “I was a writer. So I would be inspired to write poetry by spending time by myself…now I realize I was spending time with nature back then. That wasn’t what it was called, because all we had around us was nature.”

A student activist and an Air Force Veteran, Flowers’ political education was rooted in the freedom rights movement in Lowndes County; both of her parents were heavily involved. But she was influenced just as much by the daily ethics of her local community as by their political engagement.

“Everybody had big families pretty much, my family was five children, and we would all be [on our neighbor, Ms. Shug’s porch] in the evenings listening to Ernie’s Record Mart on the radio—that’s how we kept up with music,” she said.

Read on…

Why America Needs Its National Parks Now More Than Ever

Why America Needs Its National Parks Now More Than Ever

By Terry Tempest Williams  ·  Huffington Post, The Oprah Magazine  · February 15, 2017

CEE Adviser, Author Terry Tempest Williams, on how the parks became the nation’s sanctuary.

 

America’s national parks began with a vision of peace.

On June 30, 1864, about a year after the Civil War’s deadliest battle, at Gettysburg, President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, protecting for the first time—for all time—tens of thousands of acres of wilderness. By his hand, Yosemite Valley and its ancient sequoias became America’s inaugural nature preserve. Half a century later, President Wilson would create the National Park Service, which celebrated its centennial in 2016; many more lands, including Grand Canyon National Park in 1919, would come under protection in the decades that followed.

Lincoln never visited these magnificent expanses, but they came to life in his imagination through photos he’d seen. He believed our majestic vistas might offer a healing grace to a country desperately in need of it—landscapes all would own and cherish as their shared natural heritage.

I no longer see America’s national parks as, in novelist Wallace Stegner’s words, our “best idea,” but rather as our evolving idea, emblematic of our ongoing struggle to create circles of reverence and respect where we remember what it means to be human—and are reminded that humans are not the only species to live and dream. The parks recall us to the intrinsic beauty of life, interconnected and interrelated.

More than scenery or sites of recreation and retail, these lands are portals of wonder, open doors that swing back and forth from our past to our future. When we enter these places of grandeur, we stand on the periphery of awe. Once, in need of advice, I asked my friend Doug Peacock, who’d kept a map of Yellowstone in his back pocket throughout his tours as a soldier in Vietnam, how he staves off despair. “Insulate yourself with friends and seek out wild places,” he answered. The national parks are those wild places. Their nature is bound to our own capacity to stay openhearted and curious even when fear threatens to shut us down. They are our hope.

Holy Lands

In July 2015, leaders from five Native American tribes forged a coalition and asked President Obama to designate as a national monument the Bears Ears region, 1.9 million acres in southeastern Utah adjacent to Canyonlands National Park. Some of the oldest and most significant cultural sites in America—cliff dwellings, prehistoric villages, and rock art panels—would be preserved and protected from oil and gas development and off-road vehicle recreation. And establishing the monument would be a gesture of healing and respect between the U.S. government and Native Americans. To voice your support, sign the petition at BearsEarsCoalition.com.

Terry Tempest Williams is the author of, most recently, The Hour of Land.