Jim Hightower | GIVING AWAY APPALACHIA

Even over here in Texas the word is getting out and people are noticing the policies of the Bush gang in Washington. Mountaintop Removal Mining has to be stopped and it will take the efforts of all of us to do it. I have made the point to switch my electric supplier to a company that only supplies green power…No more will I support the coal companies when I turn on the lights.

GIVING AWAY APPALACHIA

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Posted by Jim Hightower

Listen to this Commentary

Boy, things are hectic inside the Bush regime these days! The clock is ticking, and Corporate America is rushing to get all the favors it can before Bush & Company closes down in 2009. Sure enough, the Bushites are delivering.

It received little media attention, but the giant coal operators (which have been reliable funders for George and the GOP) recently got a huge goodie handed to them: Bush gave them Appalachia! His office of surface mining quietly issued a new regulation that would allow King Coal to ravage the ancient mountains, glorious forests, and pure streams of Central Appalachia at will.

Source: Jim Hightower | GIVING AWAY APPALACHIA

Jim Hightower | GIVING AWAY APPALACHIA

Even over here in Texas the word is getting out and people are noticing the policies of the Bush gang in Washington. Mountaintop Removal Mining has to be stopped and it will take the efforts of all of us to do it. I have made the point to switch my electric supplier to a company that only supplies green power…No more will I support the coal companies when I turn on the lights.

GIVING AWAY APPALACHIA

Thursday, September 13, 2007
Posted by Jim Hightower

Listen to this Commentary

Boy, things are hectic inside the Bush regime these days! The clock is ticking, and Corporate America is rushing to get all the favors it can before Bush & Company closes down in 2009. Sure enough, the Bushites are delivering.

It received little media attention, but the giant coal operators (which have been reliable funders for George and the GOP) recently got a huge goodie handed to them: Bush gave them Appalachia! His office of surface mining quietly issued a new regulation that would allow King Coal to ravage the ancient mountains, glorious forests, and pure streams of Central Appalachia at will.

Source: Jim Hightower | GIVING AWAY APPALACHIA

In the Mountains

A year ago, My family was preparing for our first trip to the Highland Games. To say we all enjoyed them would be an understatement. From the moment we stepped through the gates until we made our way back down the mountain at the end of the day, we had a ball. From the athletics to the people watching to the music, we wandered MacRae Meadows over and over. I even picked up the one thing I have always wanted…My very own Claymore.

The two-handed claymore was a large sword used in the Medieval period. It was used in the constant clan warfare and border fights with the English from circa 1300 to 1700.[citation needed] The last known battle in which it is considered to have been used in a significant number was the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. It was somewhat smaller than other two-handed swords of the era. The two-handed claymore seems to be an offshoot of Early Scottish medieval swords which had developed a distinctive style of a cross-hilt with downsloping arms that ended in spatulate swellings. The spatulate swellings were frequently made in a quatrefoil design.

The average claymore ran about 140 cm (55″) in overall length, with a 33 cm (13″) grip, 107 cm (42″) blade, and a weight of approximately 2.5 kg (5.5 lb), the blades are most similar to the type XIIIa, using the Oakeshott typology. Fairly uniform in style, the sword was set with a wheel pommel often capped by a crescent-shaped nut and a guard with straight, down-sloping arms ending in quatrefoils and langets running down the center of the blade from the guard. Another common style of two-handed claymore (though lesser known today) was the “clamshell hilted” claymore. It had a crossguard that consisted of two downward-curving arms and two large, round, concave plates that protected the foregrip. It was so named because the round guards resembled an open clam.

Source: Wikipedia

As we made our way around I discovered a great Celtic Tribal Band. If you are in the area this weekend you have to check out Albannach.

Albannach from Glasgow, Scotland will deliver the same foot stomping, heart pounding, dance inspiring, tribal sounds that have gained so much attention for the last three years at Grandfather. With the sound of drums and pipes you will be TRIBALIZED.

I was so taken with their sound I ended up with a CD, which gets played often enough to drive my wife to distraction…

The 52th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games will be held July 12-15, 2007 at MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC.

Source: Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Homepage

In the Mountains

A year ago, My family was preparing for our first trip to the Highland Games. To say we all enjoyed them would be an understatement. From the moment we stepped through the gates until we made our way back down the mountain at the end of the day, we had a ball. From the athletics to the people watching to the music, we wandered MacRae Meadows over and over. I even picked up the one thing I have always wanted…My very own Claymore.

The two-handed claymore was a large sword used in the Medieval period. It was used in the constant clan warfare and border fights with the English from circa 1300 to 1700.[citation needed] The last known battle in which it is considered to have been used in a significant number was the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689. It was somewhat smaller than other two-handed swords of the era. The two-handed claymore seems to be an offshoot of Early Scottish medieval swords which had developed a distinctive style of a cross-hilt with downsloping arms that ended in spatulate swellings. The spatulate swellings were frequently made in a quatrefoil design.

The average claymore ran about 140 cm (55″) in overall length, with a 33 cm (13″) grip, 107 cm (42″) blade, and a weight of approximately 2.5 kg (5.5 lb), the blades are most similar to the type XIIIa, using the Oakeshott typology. Fairly uniform in style, the sword was set with a wheel pommel often capped by a crescent-shaped nut and a guard with straight, down-sloping arms ending in quatrefoils and langets running down the center of the blade from the guard. Another common style of two-handed claymore (though lesser known today) was the “clamshell hilted” claymore. It had a crossguard that consisted of two downward-curving arms and two large, round, concave plates that protected the foregrip. It was so named because the round guards resembled an open clam.

Source: Wikipedia

As we made our way around I discovered a great Celtic Tribal Band. If you are in the area this weekend you have to check out Albannach.

Albannach from Glasgow, Scotland will deliver the same foot stomping, heart pounding, dance inspiring, tribal sounds that have gained so much attention for the last three years at Grandfather. With the sound of drums and pipes you will be TRIBALIZED.

I was so taken with their sound I ended up with a CD, which gets played often enough to drive my wife to distraction…

The 52th Grandfather Mountain Highland Games will be held July 12-15, 2007 at MacRae Meadows on Grandfather Mountain near Linville, NC.

Source: Grandfather Mountain Highland Games Homepage

A Beautiful Mine – New York Times

It seems that the time has come for the American public to have to come to grips with what their unceasing  need for electricity is doing to one of the oldest and most diverse ecologies on the planet.

When it comes to mountaintop removal, a certain fatalism seems to take hold in Appalachia — the coal companies are too powerful, the politicians are corrupt, the regulators won’t regulate and the news media don’t care. But we cannot give up on rehabilitating Appalachia. While most efforts to reclaim the land destroyed by strip-mining have done little to restore the landscape or improve the region’s economy, one effort holds out special promise. It is a three-year-old program within the United States Office of Surface Mining called the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and it is based on decades of research.

Later in the op-ed Erik Reece speaks of the current state of affairs in Appalachia and his hopes for a future…

Appalachia’s land is dying. Its fractured communities show the typical symptoms of hopelessness, including OxyContin abuse rates higher than anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, 22 states power houses and businesses with Kentucky coal. The people of central and southern Appalachia have relinquished much of their natural wealth to the rest of the country and have received next to nothing in return.

To right these wrongs, first we need federal legislation that will halt the decapitation of mountains and bring accountability to an industry that is out of control. Then we need a New Deal for Appalachia that would expand the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, or create a similar program, to finally return some of the region’s lost wealth in the form of jobs and trees, rebuilt topsoil and resuscitated communities. Financing should come from a carbon tax on Appalachian coal bought and burned by utility companies across the country — a tax that would also discourage the wasteful emissions of greenhouse gases. Such a project would educate and employ an entire generation of foresters and forest managers, who would be followed by locally owned wood-product industries and craftsmen like Patrick Angel’s brother Mike, who makes much sought-after hardwood chairs just like ones his grandfather fashioned.

Let’s hope that America comes to it’s senses soon. If nothing else, the internet has given a voice to those who live and love the Appalachia that the coal companies would destroy. This virtual voice is beginning to get the word out to the rest of America and it wont be very long before America answers back.

Lord help the coal companies and forgive them their destruction…I don’t think I can or will until they fix their mess.

Source: A Beautiful Mine – New York Times

And another week bites the dust…

On my drive home from work I had one of those moments that drive home the need to have the camera in reach and ready to shoot…I didn’t and I wasn’t, so I missed what was probably a once in a lifetime shot. As I was drive toward home of an evening I sometimes pass a skydiving establishment in Rosharon, Skydive Spaceland. Yesterday as I came upon the facility there was a group just in their final approach to landing. They were coming in fairly well spaced out so that they were landing a couple of minutes apart from each other as I drove into town.

Every time I see this sight I wish I was prepared to catch some shots but so far I always approach as they are already landing. As I sat in the turning lane waiting for the light to change I looked up and was immediately returned to Fred First’s photo of the other day of the Vulture crossing the moon. Instead of a vulture, picture a man hanging below a bright red parasail passing back and forth in front of the moon. Needless to say, my camera was in it’s bag on the floor board behind my seat just out of reach and the light was about to change. Oh well…

I see Tom Philpott has a new article over on Grist. Everyone who has an interest in food should take a look at it…

Two years ago, dairy giant Dean Foods shuttered a milk-processing facility in Wilkesboro, a town at the eastern edge of North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains.

…Since there were no other USDA-approved processing plants around, the few remaining dairy farmers in the mountains faced a stark choice: pay to have their milk hauled an additional 55 miles to Winston-Salem, where Dean ran another plant, or exit the business.

In the tiny mountain town of Bethel, N.C. — 45 miles west of Wilkesboro — one such farmer took the second option, closing a 50-cow operation he had started in 1959. When he started his farm, Bethel had around a dozen dairy farms. Today it has none.
When I think of consolidation in the food industry — fewer and fewer companies controlling more and more production — I think of that small farm in Bethel.

The start of this article has a special meaning for me as I will never forget the day I wandered into Bethel for the fist time. the view of the valley as I wandered down from the mountains just screamed farms. It was such a striking scene I kept driving around for quite sometime. So striking in fact that I totally forgot I was carrying a camera and was out looking for photographs…go figure!

Source: How food processing got into the hands of a few giant companies | By Tom Philpott | Grist | Victual Reality | 26 Apr 2007

Coffee’s hot and there are 20 emails to read before I leave for work, so…

Ok, now I thought the Blue Ridge Mountains would still be enjoying a cool start to spring right about now. Instead they seem to have moved into what should be an early June weather pattern, or am I wrong. When a day on the Blue Ridge in late April starts out at the same temperature as the Texas Gulf Coast, well people, we have a problem. Not that I am complaining about the coolness of the morning as I sit with the door open listening to the birdsong as I sip coffee, read the morning emails and type these meandering muses. But, what will this mean for my trip in late July. I look forward to the cool mornings and the coffee out on the porch watching the valley fog below rise up and burn off. I don’t want to think it could be just as warm as Texas…

Sustainable Forestry?

I have been following Fred’s posts on sustainable forestry (links here and here)the past week or so, so when I say a link to the following on The Appalachian Voice Front Porch Blog it forced me to follow the story…to Greensboro, North Carolina. Eric Schaefer wrote the story for the News & Record there.

“Why not selectively cut?” I asked, “That way you leave the canopy at least partially intact and preserve some of the integrity of the forest as well as its beauty. There is not too much uglier than a fresh clear-cut.”
They explained to me that the problem was twofold: First, to a timber company, selective cutting means taking out the most desirable trees and leaving behind crooked trees or species that aren’t marketable. If you go that route, what you’re going to have left is a forest that is never going to produce marketable trees. Second, it is expensive and sometimes impossible to find someone to selectively cut.
Part of the job of the Forest Service is to produce forest management plans for private land owners, and Tate and Gibson told me they would gladly come up with any kind of plan the land owner wanted. If a land owner wanted forest that would be attractive to warblers and not cowbirds, woodpeckers and not starlings, trout lilies and not dandelions, they could do that, but if you want to have your land assessed as forest you have to have a timber production plan. And since they can’t recommend selective cutting because of the consequences for the future timber production, you must clear-cut to get a forest assessment.
A forest assessment, similar to an agricultural assessment, means that the land in question is assessed differently than residential property and can mean big tax savings. If farmers were assessed the same as other land owners, many of them would go out of business. So to ensure we don’t lose our farms, farmland is assessed differently and the same is true for forest land. However, you must be actively engaged in farming or forestry to get these assessments, and what that essentially means for forest land is periodic clear-cutting.

As you can read from the story, it’s easier for the lumber companies therefore

  • the Forest Service won’t recommend any other form of timber management.
  • without the Forest Service timber management you don’t get a forest assessment.
  • without the forest assessment you don’t get the lower tax rate.

What’s wrong with this picture? Essentially, the Forest Service is forcing landowners to have their forest clearcut. Go read the article…From here it looks like another holdover from the turn of the past century is still making it easy to strip the resources off the earth… This whole story reinforces what the Healing Harvest Forest Foundation is trying to do.

To first take out the injured and dying trees, the introduced species making room for the more valued trees to grow. And doing it in a way that doesn’t destroy what you leave is the very essence of sustainable. It just takes time and above all patience.

Source: News-Record.com – Greensboro, North Carolina: Sports: Clear-cutting question really isn’t clear cut

Stalking the Vegetannual | by Barbara Kingsolver | Orion Magazine March-April 2007

Fred First pointed a link at this article. Thanks Fred. The entire article is worth the read but I found the last paragraph very important…

Locally grown is a denomination whose meaning is incorruptible. Sparing the transportation fuel, packaging, and unhealthy additives is a compelling part of the story. But the plot goes beyond that. Local food is a handshake deal in a community gathering place. It involves farmers with first names, who show up at the market week after week. It involves consumers who remember that to be human is to belong to a food chain, wherever and whenever we find ourselves alive. It means remembering the truest of all truths: we are what we eat. Stepping slowly backward out of a fuel-driven industry of highly transported foods will alter more than a person’s grocery list. Such small, stepwise changes in personal habits aren’t trivial. Ultimately, they will add up to the story of who we were on this planet: what it took to keep us alive, what we left behind.

Source: Stalking the Vegetannual | by Barbara Kingsolver | Orion Magazine March-April 2007