Reflections from the Center of the Universe

Published on, by Mrill Ingram, Dec 12, 2016.

In the middle of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, more than fifty miles of backcountry roads from the closest town of Moab, I stumble across a dance floor. It lies only a few hundred yards from the Green River, and although large parts of the cement floor are covered by reddish alluvial dirt, it looks to be some 500 square feet. That’s a big dance for the middle of nowhere … //

… John Weisheit, Colorado Riverkeeper and conservation director for the organization Living Rivers, has arranged for eight of us to get together on this six-and-a-half-day oars-only river trip. We put in at Mineral Bottom (above at left on this map), a boat launch on the Green River about forty miles from Moab, to float the calm waters of the Green to its confluence with the Colorado River, a place some call the “center of the universe.” On the fourth day, we enter Cataract Canyon, where we’ll hit whitewater. Our take- out, midday on day seven, is just above Hite, at the increasingly upper limits of Lake Powell … //

… Water coming from below a massive dam is indeed vastly different from a living river. Having dropped its sediment load in the still waters of the reservoir, the water comes out from below the dam very cold, clear, and with a different chemical makeup. Weisheit, a coauthor of books and scientific papers about how dams change rivers, offers a constant stream of information about the profound impacts on beaches, fish, native plants, and animals. Unlike dammed waterways, living rivers experience floods, which create beaches, move sediment in and out, and support native plants and animals.

Since we’re in a national park, and one that sees a lot of visitors, we must follow rules to protect the riverbanks and sandbars. Our fires are contained in a fire pan, which we set up on a heat-proof tarp, so we don’t leave any charcoal behind on the beaches. We carry out all our own waste, too (in large army surplus ammo cans that work surprisingly well), except for pee, which goes in the river. Under our kitchen area, we lay down a mesh ground cloth that catches spills from food preparation. And we always pick up any bits of wrapping or charcoal we find left behind by others.

With all the care we take to not leave a trace, it’s a bit weird to encounter concrete dance floors, uranium mining equipment, old fencing from livestock corrals, iron pipes and cables, and remnants of old roads. But evidence of human ambition, as well as error, are everywhere; Weisheit points out the inscriptions on rocks, the caches of old signage, the pieces from a long-ago boat wreck.

And then there’s that dance floor. It is just one reminder, and a relatively benign one at that, of the many outsized ideas about how to “use” this wild space. The job of wilderness protection, amid an endless stream of development ideas, is never done.

Weisheit delivers a lunchtime talk on recent activities threatening the wildness of Cataract Canyon. Uranium processing mills are a big one (I learn there’s one underneath Lake Powell). Shifts in the price of oil create surges in demand for uranium, causing mining companies to spring up like mushrooms. “It’s an up and down history,” sighs Weisheit. “And one we aren’t going to get rid of—unless we work harder.”

I also hear about speculations for a nuclear power plant on the Green River. And expedition member Tom Martin, with River Runners for Wilderness, tells me of plans for the “Escalade,” a proposal for a massive hotel and tramway on Navajo land at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River in the heart of the Grand Canyon, many miles downstream … //

… The passion she expresses, and which I hear from everyone in this group, is a constant life-shaping force, driving decisions about where to live and where to work. These are folks who abandon classrooms because they want to be outdoors, anxious to use what they’ve already learned to protect what they love. When I think about the challenges Wood and Stock are passionate about—saving democracy as well as the planet—I wonder how they are not overwhelmed. But their excitement is palpable. They are connected to a huge groundswell of protest against a status quo that separates the planet from the cause of justice for all. That connection—I think—that’s “environment 2.0.”

My father, who is celebrating his eightieth birthday with this trip, tells me it has given him a far broader view of the Colorado River. “There’s no comparing canyons,” he says. “I realize now that they are each unique expressions of a river moving through a landscape—they are individuals but also cohere into a complete narrative that the river creates.” This sentiment helps explain the still raw feelings he has about the loss of Glen Canyon, he says, and his determination to not lose any more.

There it is again, the passion for the Earth that keeps fighters fighting, even as old threats resurface and new, even worse ones loom on the horizon.

I put away my notebook and tighten my life jacket in preparation for some whitewater. Turbulence ahead!

(full long text).

Related Links to above article:




The Grand Canyon:

Other Links:

Muslim boys going wild – and my comments:

  • Women shunned in some Muslim neighborhoods in France – report, on RT, Dec 14, 2016 – (my comment: the ‘default’ solution next year, if the situation does not changes radically (must be initiated by Muslim leaders themselves): Guess??? Marie LePen, to put radicals just out of France, whatever it costs … yes, even if they have a french passport (oh, it would be for their safety). All is makeable, as we learned meanwhile by our shiny elites. You said ‘no solution’? You really believe that? – Heidi);
  • VIDEO: Quand les femmes deviennent indésirables dans les lieux publics, 5.47 min, dans France 2, le 7 déc 2016: aujourd’hui, des associations alertent sur ces quartiers où les femmes deviennent indésirables dans l’espace public. Se promener en jupe ou boire un café en terrasse peut alors devenir un vrai défi pour elles;
  • an analogue event in Germany: Mann tritt Frau in den Rücken die Treppe runter, Meinung eines “Ausländers” dazu, 8.06 min, von Mazdak am 8. Dez 2016 … mittlerweile weiss es jeder, der Vorfall in einem Berliner U-Bahnhof, bei dem ein Mann (Flüchtling?) einer jungen Frau in den Rücken tritt und sie die Treppen hinunter befördert. Ich sage dazu als “Ausländer” meine Meinung und sorge für Klarheit in der ganzen Sache. Nicht jeder, der Kritik äußert ist automatisch “rechts” – (my comment: in Germany the reaction will take much more time than in France. The german collective consciousness has still not forgiven itself their old, almost rotten Holocaust – Heidi);

For an European Political Economy of Trust, on Social Europe, by Albena Azmanova, Dec 14, 2016;

[KR1005] Keiser Report: Fake News (E1005, ft. Alex Jones from Infowars), 25.47 min, on Max Keiser, by Stacy Herbert, Dec 14, 2016: from Austin, Texas, we discuss the mainstream media pushing their hashtag fake news blacklists as alt-media rejects fake narrative values to eat mainstream media’s naked lunch with acid memes and information liberation …;

Labour calls on Theresa May to end ‘national shame’ of rough sleepers, on Left Food Forward, by GodfreyR, Dec 14, 2016: pledge to ringfence housing welcomed by charities;

The Wisconsin Vote Recount Raised Trump’s Vote Count, on Paul Craig, by blog owner, Dec 13, 2016: and the Michigan vote recount found that in Detroit some Hillary votes were multiplied by 6;

Italy On The Brink, on Social Europe, by Philippe Legrain, Dec 13, 2016;

Guarantee EU nationals can stay in UK after Brexit, says cross-party inquiry, on Left Food Forward, by Adam Barnett, Dec 12, 2016: Leave and Remain voters back permanent residence offer before Brexit talks;

Something Incredible – Wizards 2017, 13.51 min, uploaded by Avatar Video, April 13, 2016;

Pumping up fear over selective terror while ignoring state terror, on Intrepid Report, by Douglas Valentine, Jan 9, 2015: Selective terror achieves political & psychological goals that state terror does not …;

Deutscher Kleinkunstpreis 2016 – Helge Schneider, Jochen Malmsheimer, Martina Schwarzmann, 73.35 min, von Freie Propaganda 2.0;

… and this:

  • December – George Winston, 39.45 min, uploaded by John W … more in autoplay.

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