Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Future ...

Tomorrow is the Planning Commission meeting on the wetlands CAO draft. In my view, the wetlands draft CAO is deeply flawed in nearly every regard. Nevertheless, based on reports recounted to me, Council members and their confidants have been overheard saying that the CAOs will be rammed through by June and enacted by July, and the Council will place great "importance" on what the Planning Commission does. In short, it seems that the Council will use the Planning Commission as cover.

This blog has talked about the scientific flaws and fallacious arguments used to support the proposed CAOs, but I feel the most insidious aspect of the CAOs is its cultural and ecological wrong headedness. One of my favorite books is Shame of the Nation by Jonathan Kozol. It is not an environmental book. It is a story about race. It is a story about American culture. Kozol observes that the best place to find segregated society in America today is to go to a school named after Martin Luther King or Thurgood Marshall. America's schools have re-segregated decades after Brown vs Board of Education:

One of the most disheartening experiences for those who grew up in the years when Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall were alive is to visit public schools today that bear their names, or names of other honored leaders of integration struggles that produced the temporary progress that took place in the three decades after Brown, and to find how many of these schools are bastions of contemporary segregation. It is even more disheartening when schools like these are not in segregated neighborhoods but in racially mixed areas in which integration of a public school would seem to be most natural and where, indeed, it takes a conscious effort on the part of parents or school officials in these districts to avoid the integration option that is often right at their front door.

Kozol goes on to profile one school named Martin Luther King by saying:

Segregated schools like Martin Luther King are often tense, disorderly, and socially unhappy places, and when episodes of student violence occur, the inclination of the parents of white children to avoid such schools is obviously reinforced.

Kozol's observations strike me as having some relevance to currents in mainstream environmentalism as well.  Communities dominated by right-minded mainstream environmentalists are seeking to reestablish a kind of eco-segregation. Environmentalism today seeks our separateness from nature even when, or maybe especially when, it is right outside our front door. Signs, fences, trails, and buffers are advocated to control us from being in nature, and in fact, human-ecological integration seems anathema to the mainstream environmental movement.

It wasn't always this way, Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic was about "extending" our idea of human community to plants and animals. That is a fundamentally integrative concept, not a separatist one. One of my greatest fears over the CAOs has to do with their potentially disastrous effect on integrative ecological ideas like permaculture. Nearly everything that permaculture stands for will become illegal under our new CAOs. In our larger world, it is already illegal to make cheese from raw milk and there are even environmentalist efforts to have farm hogs declared an invasive species. How could the environmental movement have drifted so far off course?

I think it's because contemporary mainstream environmentalism has become detached and institutionalized. The large environmental organizations are headed by "CEO's", and they work with government agencies and other large bodies. Foundations wield influence by providing grant funding to "local" organizations, diminishing the importance of genuinely local voices. Professional societies, such as the US Green Building Council and the American Planning Association, also play an increasing role in advancing their own environmental agenda mixed with professional ambition. These new institutional players are the Sierra Clubs of today, and environmentalism, as a cause, has been supplanted by environmentalism as a career. Instead of being part of the anti-establishment, environmentalism now is the establishment, with all the baggage that comes with it.

In the midst of all this is the missing grassroots, and I'm not talking about people who show up at WTO protests or are Earth First-ers. I'm talking about the grassroots who have a simple integrated view of nature and who just want to live with it, as best they can. They know the community and ecological vision put forward by our CAO authors is wrong.

I suppose it's time to set aside our permaculture dreams, abandon our hopes of living with wildlife, and instead figure out how we will clearly demarcate the buffers and boundaries that will be the hallmark of our coming eco-segregated community. And just as the names of the great civil rights leaders of the past now lend their monikers to sad examples of the failure of integration, we will mark the failure of old time environmentalism by our community's increasing eco-separeteness. I doubt any ecological benefit will result, and in the process we will have become a "tense, disorderly, and socially unhappy place."

Yesterday, the comment below was left in response to a Seattle Times article about the San Juans:

It is long past time. The people that live on the Islands are the problem. They must be relocated before they destroy it for all time. The Ferry service is the drug, eliminate that and the cure will suely follow.

The people that have ruined the land must not be compinsated. To pay people for this distruction is akin to paying people to kill little baby seals.

The future is now.Every day that the people that squat on the San Jaun Islands and destroy the habitat is a nightmare. The military has the right to be, the rest of the people must go.

The aminals and the enviroment need our help now. The death ferry's must end. The future of these percious lands depends on your actions. Remove the people and remove the threat. Why these people were allowed to decimate the land in the first place is beyond belief.

Help us now, remove the cancer before the damage is simply to great. There is no cure for the damage they have done, but there is hope. Eliminate the Ferry Service, our children will why didn't you do anything?

Remove the people and let nature heal this hideous scar. The ferry is their hypodermic needle, lets cut the supply off. Lets do it for the children, lets do it for our future, lets do it because it is the right thing to do.

It belongs to eagles and the seals, it belongs to nature. These people have polluted it long enough. The time has come to say fair is fair, it belongs to nature, lets give it back.

No comments:

Post a Comment