Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tucson Environmental Radicals Target Homes, Cars

Tucson vandals claiming to act in the name of animal rights and the environment have begun targeting the homes and cars of earth destroyers and animal exploiters.

In two separate incidents on Feb. 19, a researcher at the University of Arizona had her water valve cemented shut, and an employee of a mining company had her tires flattened and her windows etched with hateful sayings.

A group called Tucson Hooligans Attack at Night, Duh – or, Tucson H.A.A.N.D. – claimed responsibility for the acts in a news release on an independent media Web site. No phone number for the group was listed.

The post said the group cemented the water meter of researcher Katalin Gothard because of her research with monkeys, and that Kathy Arnold’s car tire was slashed and her window etched because of her job with Augusta Resources Rosemont Copper Project. Augusta wants to open a 1.2-square-mile open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains.

The group also claimed responsibility for a Jan. 15 incident in which expletive-laced slogans were etched on the windows and garage doors of the home of Si Schorr, a Tucson attorney and former chairman of the Arizona Transportation Board. The group said he was targeted for his support of an Interstate 10 bypass route that environmentalists say would damage valuable habitat.

The incidents were confirmed by police.


In its news release, Tucson H.A.A.N.D. dedicated its most recent actions to four animal-rights activists recently arrested by the FBI for alleged attacks on animal researchers at the University of California. The four are being charged with using “force, violence, or threats to interfere with the operation of the University of California in violation of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act,” according to a San Francisco FBI news release.

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The original Indymedia post: Tucson H.A.A.N.D. Attacks Vivsectors’ home and Mining Scumbag

A Message from the WilderPress! Editorial Collective

A Letter from the Editors, WilderPress! Issue #1:

We must first begin by thanking all those involved with making this publication possible—to Maria’s Bookshop and Durango Natural Foods for their interest in stocking WilderPress! and supporting free speech; to those wild folks who submitted their thoughts, feelings and stories—without you this would not be possible; to all those who pick this up, read it, and evaluate their position on the environmental movement or at least how they live their daily lives…we bow to you.

We need a drastic change in philosophy and action across the globe. There is no better place to start, and no better place to defend, than our own backyard. There is no greater fundamental challenge to human beings than the collapse of the very biosphere that supports life as we know it. A biosphere, that quite simply, we are destroying.

The hour is upon us. How will we choose to act in the vital years to come? Surely we cannot be so ignorant as to continue down a path in which we destroy our own home for short- term economic gain. Prosperity does not have to equal growth. Yet the forests continue to fall, the oceans continue to die, the land continues its path to infertility, more rivers lay tame—shackled by concrete and steel—more children starve, more cultures crumble to the great corporate tyrants of the world…the biosphere suffers—business as usual…

Many humans live in a world plagued with denial and apathy, particularly in the United States. It is easy in this county—one that prides itself on skewed view of individualism and materialism—for people to turn their backs on issues such as environmental degradation and social injustices, as long as the issues don’t seem to directly affect their day-to-day accumulation of “stuff.” Unfortunately, the idea of individualism that has developed in this country is not one made of many positive attributes. Instead of individualism defining our creativity, and fueling a free society where all citizens are supported, and where all share the benefits of each others hard work, it reveals itself as radically possessive, hubristic, and self-centered, complete with an obsessive drive to compete with neighbors and fellow human beings. The “American Dream” has become more and more of a rat race and more and more of a nightmare.

No one seems to question this system or its affects…it is simply what they have been inculcated and conditioned to do, and they deny that anything is wrong, blaming their headache, beer gut, and insomnia on “just a long day at work” or “our busy schedule”, swearing that next week will be different, that they will do something to change the way they feel, that they aren’t going to take it anymore. Bullshit. All the while Americans fuel their obsession and addiction to material possessions, and continue to ignore the consequences of an all too affluent lifestyle—mostly because, until now, the consequences have rarely had direct effect.

The reason we bring all this up is not only to increase awareness of what should already be too clear, or to condemn a system we are increasingly sickened by, but rather to pose a new year’s resolution for the whole nation, or at the very least one for Durango and the Four Corners. This is our call to action—a call for a change we so desperately need, a lifestyle we secretly, and not so secretly, long for, and a revival of the body, mind, and spirit we used to possess. In 2009 let us drop this futile concept of individualism we have nurtured for all too long; it is very much overrated and certainly not in tune with the sustainable, livable world we so direly need to foster. Let us remember what it means to support our family, our neighbors, our community, our nation, and our world—human and non-human alike.

WilderPress! is here to provide a voice for the natural world, and those dedicated to its defense. We are here to promote free speech, creativity, thought, theory and action. The environmental crisis is like no other challenge humans have ever faced, and we must approach the struggle with multifaceted strategy. Awareness and solidarity are our most powerful weapons and we must come together to ensure a future that supports life, not destroys it. The environment is in peril and no longer does economic status, religious affiliation, political standing, ethnic background or geographic location determine where we stand. We are all living beings, and we all need a healthy Earth in order to survive. Everyone is affected equally by the degradation of the environment, and everyone will pay the price should we choose to continue…

The time has come to rise up in defense of Mother Earth, in resistance against those who are willfully enslaving and destroying the natural world, and in solidarity with those who know humans cannot continue on our current path of destruction. We must reclaim our place as responsible members within the greater community of living beings upon this planet, and act accordingly. This means taking action against the systematic ecocide perpetrated by industrial civilization and resisting the destruction of the Earth by any means necessary. The future of all life on Earth—human and non-human alike—depends on a healthy land base. The sooner the destruction is stopped, the better. Inaction is complicity. Complicity is abhorrent. We must come together in the name of something greater than ourselves, and yet intricately intertwined with our very being and exsistence. Let us vow to never let our children use the word wilderness in the past tense…

This is for our children, for the planet, and for ourselves… This publication is in solidarity with those who continue to fight for a livable world, where all life is valued, and to those who wish to join the battle. This is to the defense of wild places, by wild people, at whatever cost, and by any means necessary. The time to resist has come… Let us love together and laugh together and fight together for a better world. See you in the woods…and please don’t be too late…

—The WilderPress! Editorial Collective

Earth Warrior

by Dee Allen, WilderPress! Issue #1

Our eternal parent
Bore countless offspring
And in her most agonised moments,
She summoned only one.
Proud son of the Pascua Yaqui nation
Answered the call.
Cries for help felt throughout his bones & sinew
Like sudden tremors. Time to act.
Honourbound in defence of the mother of all,
Every whale was spared of the fisher’s net & harpoon.
Every whaling ship sank into the deep cold blue.
Every old-growth forest did not suffer slashing & burning.
Every cage became an open cage.
Every trap became a damaged trap.
Every chief executive & their company underlings
Shamed for their crimes.
The animal nations & nature live much longer
Because of the Earth Warrior
Galvanizing two movements that are but a
Continuation of an old indigenous struggle.
Proud son of the Pascua Yaqui nation
Answered the call long ago.
Man-spirit and world-spirit are one.
He rescued countless lives from captivity
But who will rise to save the Earth Warrior
From the cage surrounding him?
Even warriors need heroes.

W: 10.22.08 [For Michael Sykes.]

(Although to our knowledge currently free, this was one of the best pictures of Dee we could find!)

The Art of Downsizing According to Paul Conlin

by Daniel Lorber, WilderPress! Issue #1

In this second decade of the American green movement (the first being the ‘60s and it’s "back to the land" and "natural" ethos) there has been much talk, architectural design and actual execution of the concept of downsizing. In yet another way to reduce our carbon footprint, many people are considering reducing the size of their dwelling space, or actually doing it. Americans are known for their massive homes, in comparison to many other western countries. I myself have lived in a rambling and spacious old farmhouse in upstate New York since 1987. It has much more space than my wife and I actually need to live -- about 2,000 sq. ft.. We now own a much smaller home in Bisbee, Arizona with a total of 700 sq. ft. You would think 700 sq. ft. is a sacrifice and an appropriate living space for two that will reasonably need to be heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. But there are those who are taking the art of downsizing much further. The internet is rife with start-up companies touting the advantages -- and pleasures -- of small houses. I’m talking 150-200 sq. ft. here. How fast or how slow these houses catch on may rely on energy costs over the next decade or so. Don’t forget, it wasn’t the Iraq War that doomed George Bush and the Republicans, it was the economy. The only way to get most Americans to change is to hit them in their wallets. Ethics, morality, practicality, environmental soundness be damned -- take their money and they’ll buy the tiniest car, the tiniest house, the biggest windmill or solar panel.

For Paul Conlin, the concept of downsizing is different from most Americans; I’ll go so far to say it is different than most humans. You see, Conlin is downsizing from a 90 sq. ft. living space to 20. That’s right -- 20 tiny, claustrophobic, inadequate square feet. Or, if you have a different perspective, 20 luxurious, spacious, plentiful square feet (if your current abode is a two-man tent)

Paul Conlin has a well-tuned life. He is a carpenter by trade, who has built a business exclusively by word-of-mouth. His spring, summers and early fall are spent in the Berkshire Mountains of eastern New York and western Massachusetts. There he lives in a small cabin at the end of a dirt road in the woods. He has no computer, no TV, no air conditioning. His refrigerator runs on propane. His lights are powered by propane as well. His bathroom is an outhouse a stone’s throw from the cabin. The only modern technological items he has are a cell phone, mainly to be able to conduct business, and a portable DVD player with a seven-inch screen. He has no health insurance. For a 21st century man, he’s pretty well off the grid.

For the past six or seven winters Paul has been living in southern Arizona in a vintage 1968 Silver Air Stream trailer that has a small bedroom and bathroom, tiny kitchen and a couch of sorts -- which, along with a small side table makes up his living room/eating nook. The whole place comprises a total of 90 square feet.

Paul’s current humble abode

I visited Paul earlier this winter at his trailer, which was parked at the Shady Dell in the quintessential hippie town of Bisbee, AZ. The Shady Dell is a kind of retro-RV park that caters especially to owners of those old-style RVs like the Air Stream Paul owns. We were sitting in his minuscule living room, imbibing a Mexican beverage, when he told me he was going to sell the trailer. "It’s more room than I need," he explained. When asked where he would live, he said he’d take his 1978 VW microbus out west next winter and live in that. The VW has a bed, sink, stove, refrigerator and a few lesser comforts. Total square footage: 20.

Now some might think taking the concept of downsizing to such a minuscule level is going too far, but not Paul Conlin. He seems to have a sense of what a person needs to live this life: adequate food, shelter, a good book, a few liberal periodicals to read weekly or monthly, access to a library with a good DVD collection, a decent beer now and again.

“The word 'comfortable' is purely subjective. For Cindy and John McCain, comfort may mean 7 houses. For someone else, it’s the back of a van with a comfortable bed, a headlamp and a little heater. But what does a person really need?”

He told me that he will often travel too far from either his western or eastern base to commute each day to whatever carpentry job he’s engaged in. So he’ll take his vehicle, park it at or near the worksite, and live in it until the work is done. Paul does not see this as a hardship. In fact, he’ll tell you he is perfectly comfortable lying in the back of his Izuzu Trooper (which has none of the amenities of the VW) parked in your driveway. Conlin has gone so far as to prefer the Trooper or the VW van to a bedroom in the house he is working on. I met two friends of his in New Lebanon, NY who told me they had invited Paul to stay in their comfortable and spacious house while doing a renovation for them. He declined and lived in his VW for 3 weeks.

Conlin, who is 56, grew up in Freeport, LI, in a family of seven children. He came of age during the 60s and at 16 he attended the Woodstock Music Festival. In his late teens and 20’s he drifted around the country: he worked at the molybdenum mine in Climax, Colorado; he did shrimping and roughnecking in Texas; he worked on a fish boat and did geothermal mapping in Alaska. All these jobs had one thing in common: they were all outdoors. Paul is an outdoors guy -- he most often hikes or bikes -- and he needs to be if he is going to spend 6 months of each year in a 20 sq. ft. domicile.

But Paul Conlin’s downsizing decision brings up the question at the heart of the matter: how much room, really, does a person need to carry on a fulfilling and comfortable life? The word "comfortable" is purely subjective. For Cindy and John McCain, comfort may mean 7 houses. For someone else, it’s the back of a van with a comfortable bed, a headlamp and a little heater. But what does a person really need? A 200 sq. ft. kitchen? A den, living room, family room, exercise room, office room, room, room, room ad nauseum? Americans are known to be overindulgent in every aspect of their lives leading to the fact that even though Americans constitute 5% of the world's population they consume 24% of the world's energy. It’s time to take a lesson from the likes of Paul Conlin and join the Downsize Revolution.

Late 70’s model Volkswagen Microbus similar to the one Paul will call home.

Call Me a Sagebrush Patriot

by Ken Wright, WilderPress! Issue #1

I live in a fantastic corner of the American West, on the edge of where mountains fall away into canyon-carved desert. I live in one of this area's mountain valleys, but at mid-morning on this day, I find myself on a high above-tree-line pass, taking in a grand sweep of the country. To the east stands a far-ranging range of peaks, rippling away like the choppy surface of a lake. To my immediate south rises a single, massive peak, a great, banded pyramid off whose face falls a sloping scree field that sprawls down and away to the rolling foothill forest lands that reach outward and downward through climate zones, from subalpine fir to piñon and juniper, across the rising and falling of foothills and gathering creeks, then across a river and its side canyons to the green valley bottom where squats the nearest town to the west.

Looking in that direction from this 11,000-plus-foot perch, I can see across dry sage lands for a hundred miles or more, and in that distance I see the wall of a flat table-top mountain, the blue bodies of three distant mountain ranges, and the dendritic arms of two major river systems.

And when I take all this in, I feel lucky. Blessed, even.

Let's face it: we in the American West are blessed. No need to be shy or humble or coy about this. We know it. We are blessed.

Sure, sure, there are mountain ranges and deserts and valleys in other places, some really pretty ones, even. But what makes the American West a place like no other, is that, even though this landscape spread out before me today is not all pristine wilderness, the fact remains that much of the American West is largely undeveloped, unindustrialized, and unprofitable. It is inhabited mainly by small, scattered, struggling villages and towns, places where making a living is a constant challenge and is usually somehow tied to the surrounding land, from ranching to mining to tourism. Hard places to get ahead, if that's your aim. But that's okay with most of us who live here because we are strange by modern standards: we like it that way.

“I worry because too many of us who do love the West are smugly content to go out and herd cattle or cut timber or bike or fish or hunt or ski or bike or hike while not lifting one tired finger or raspy voice or bloody-knuckled fist to defend the lands that make that work and play possible.”

For us, the reward for that struggling is all around, all that glorious land we are free to gaze into, to roam over, to work and play on. In the American West, ski bums and grunge rock climbers and line cook/river guides and over-educated, urban-ex-patriot, former-professional manual laborers are the 21st Century pastoralists, joining ranchers and hardrock miners and 1960s back-to-the-earth neo-hunters and gatherers -- as well as the earlier, true hunters and gatherers -- clinging voluntarily to inefficient and uneconomical lifestyles that view life an land as more valuable than money. We do that because here remains huge expanses of open countryside that are open to all, and built upon this land thrives an intact and interwoven network of working rural communities still dependent upon and humbled by this great landscape.

What is truly blessed about the American West, though, is that, like few places on earth, our kids have a chance to inherit this land-loving culture, to raise their own families amidst big, healthy hunks of wild and rural country that they, too, will be free to wander and work in when they want and need.

It's not by some lucky quirk of fate that the American West remains so undeveloped while the rest of rest of rural American is being bulldozed by people, houses, industry, agribusiness, resource liquidation, repeatedly redundant commercial strips, and sterile suburban mausoleums. It's because we have a defense mechanism, an antibody to the economic-land-development virus, that is also unique in the whole world: public land. Lots of public land. A massive shield of public land. More than half the land between the Sierra Nevada and the Front Range is owned by all Americans regardless of income or residence or social class. And it is this public land that inoculates much of the West from the early 21st Century cult of economics that devours wildlands and guts rural landscapes everywhere else.

Our public lands are the American West -- not just the physical West, but the cultural and psychological West. The West's great open spaces -- high country, deserts, forests, rivers -- give rise to the distinctly Western attitude and spirit we here so treasure, whether we be ranchers or bow hunters or ski bums or bankers. And those great open spaces remain open and accessible because they are public. Yet, remarkably, it seems few people here recognize this bedrock importance of our public lands. Sure, we use them, we hunt and fish and go four-wheeling on them. We go camping and take pictures and enjoy the views they preserve and protect. Some folks who live outside the region just visit them once every year or ten, and then spend the time between visits dreaming and reading and telling stories about them.

And whether we live here or not, we often argue, often vehemently over how they're managed. But while we argue about the economics and ecology of the uses of our public lands, rarely do we stop to acknowledge that the reason we still have anything to argue about is because so much of this land is public. Without public lands, our arguments would be irrelevant, sold off for subdivisions, strip malls, strip mines, clear cuts, dude ranches, theme parks and facade resorts and posted "no trespassing" getaway homes and gated communities and private game ranches. Need proof? Remember those places that were until recently still rural: New England, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Piedmont of the Carolinas, the southern Appalachians. Yes, we are blessed. But I worry.

I worry because too many of us who do love the West are smugly content to go out and herd cattle or cut timber or bike or fish or hunt or ski or bike or hike while not lifting one tired finger or raspy voice or bloody-knuckled fist to defend the lands that make that work and play possible. I worry because we're all too friggin' busy attacking each other for what the other is doing on our public lands to see that the reason we have anything to argue about at all is because so much of this land is public. But we can't afford to bicker anymore. Once we lose our public lands -- all or some, ecologically or economically -- they are gone for good.

If you love the West as, a holdout of rural communities surrounded by a dazzling and undeveloped landscape that you and your children and their children all own, then you must have the courage to -- the responsibility to -- stand up. We need to put our arguments aside and rally together over out public lands as refuges no just of land, but of culture. All of us who love and need what these lands give us beyond the dollars they’re worth must make a vow: We will not let anyone take them away.

Those who wanted to take these lands away once called themselves Sagebrush Rebels, rebelling against the “public” in public land for the money that could be extracted by making them private. Call me a Sagebrush Patriot: a fighter standing by my country -- as in countryside, as in country living, as in big open wild country -- where our wild spirits can grow and live, and where our kids can grow up to be both wilderness nuts and ranchers, living and working close to the land, like humans are supposed to.

To do that, we need an army of Sagebrush Patriots, a diverse but unified force of Western people -- not just organized environmentalists, but fishermen and hunters and ORVers, alongside backpackers and mountain bikers and loggers and ranchers -- standing together as a vanguard for the future.

Blessed people in a blessed country. Let's keep it that way.

This essay is excerpted from “Why I'm Against It All”. Ken Wright's latest book is “The Monkey Wrench Dad: Dispatches from the Backyard Frontline” (Raven's EyePress)