Archive | January, 2011

WNY Economic Development, Obstacles and Opportunities

24 Jan

Recently, I sat down with James Allen, Executive Director of the Amherst Industrial Development Agency (AIDA) to discuss economic development strategies in Western New York.  Mr. Allen is an advocate for strategic, regionalized, economic development strategies as well as increased outreach to Canadian economic development professionals.  Mr Allen believes that economic development in the new economy is a community-wide effort focused on people, knowledge, networks, and linking community assets.

Allen holds a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from the University at Buffalo (UB) and serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the UB School of Architecture and Planning focusing on regional economic development planning and industrial development. He is also a Senior Fellow at the UB Regional Institute.

The Amherst IDA is one of six Industrial Development Agencies in Erie County, along with the Erie County IDA and four more in the suburban towns of Lancaster, Hamburg, Concord, Clarence.  There are also three IDAs in Niagara County, including the Niagara County IDA and two more in the towns of Lockport and Niagara.  IDAs are primarily chartered to provide state and local tax exemptions to businesses in order to attract or retain business in local communities and/or provide low cost loans to businesses.

There are also other organizations working towards economic development in WNY, including the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, and the vestigial tails of the former Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation; the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation and the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency.

With a robust number of agencies, one would think that business in Western New York would be booming.  However, the region continues to struggle with development and businesses continue to move out of New York State.  It’s possible that the number of agencies chartered with economic development in the region is actually causing confusion and adding unnecessary red tape to projects.  The Partnership for the Public Good has done a load of research on the pros and cons of IDA consolidation and I encourage you to read it. While consolidation offers many benefits, IDAs in Erie County already have shared policy goals and incentives and work together using the Framework for Regional Growth.

Mr. Allen feels that significant tax and regulatory obstacles exist which prohibit growth in the region.  He points out a few specific regulations and some case studies which illustrate his point.

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The regulatory and tax environment that Allen describes is a disincentive to larger companies looking to relocate to WNY and forces the IDAs to make large scale tax concessions in order to bring jobs to the region.  With those obstacles in place, a more focused approach on developing local companies and start-ups should be the primary objective.

The lower start-up costs associated with business overhead and access to a talented, but lower cost labor pool certainly give WNY an advantage over many other regions.  However, this approach is constrained by a general lack of local capital.  Allen points out that the lack of a pipeline of ideas and projects is a limiting factor in bringing external angel and venture capital to the region.

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Finally, an under-explored opportunity is economic development outreach to Canadian companies.  Efforts by the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise have resulted in several companies doing just that, but the efforts should be municipally sponsored and much more robust.  Allen feels that we have a good start and we need to develop a regional framework for for cooperative economic development planning between governments.

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“We need to determine what kind of future we want to create.” says Allen.  An encouraging development in this direction is Governor Cuomo’s announcement of ten regional economic councils in New York. The goal is to consolidate and transform the state’s fragmented economic development programs into a coordinated effort to grow regional industries, or “clusters.” This would allow for bottom-up planning rather than top down decision making from the Empire State Development Corporation.

A Battered Court

21 Jan

Most of yesterday’s proceedings in the Muzzammil Hassan murder case took place behind closed doors.  The lawyers and the accused were in chambers for hours yesterday morning, hashing out “representation” issues.  As they filed out for a lunch break, the jury had not been in the courtroom at all that day, and the lawyers indicated that they had to go back and do some research.

When they reconvened at 2, it became evident that Hassan was looking to either conduct a “hybrid” defense with his counsel, Jeremy Schwartz, acting as a legal advisor only, or in the alternative Hassan demanded that he be permitted to fire Schwartz on the spot.   Hassan claimed that no one knew the case as well as he, and that Schwartz was providing ineffective counsel; Schwartz didn’t call, didn’t visit, didn’t read his emails.  Hassan – ever the victim.

The judge denied everything, and Hassan had a temper tantrum, yelling at the judge and otherwise showing contempt for his lawyer, for the process, for the proceeding, and ultimately for his wife.

Because this trial is brought by the people to find justice for her murder.  Hassan made a mockery of that process – it was a circus that Hassan manufactured to manipulate the court, and he evidently hoped to either charm or creep out the jury.

In mid-tantrum, Hassan started packing up his stuff and asking to be taken back to the holding center, that he refused to participate in the case anymore, arguing that only he had anything to lose if he was allowed to represent himself. The most telling exchange about Hassan’s sense of self-worth?

Hassan: I’m the only one whose life is hurt.

Judge Franczyk:  Well, that’s debateable.

Judge Franczyk, loath to call a mistrial, told Hassan he could stay and be quiet, or he could go in another room and watch the proceedings via CCTV where he couldn’t disrupt things.  Hassan opted for closed-circuit monitoring of the trial – he could see everything and hear everything, but not himself be heard.

The jury was instructed to infer nothing from Hassan’s absence as they filed back in to hear testimony from a physician’s assistant who treated Aasiyah Zubair’s injuries suffered at her husband’s hands.  Zubair had claimed to have fallen off a bike, and the physician’s assistant testified that the injuries couldn’t have been suffered that way, and Zubair ultimately admitted that her husband had beaten her.  Also heard from was the Wal*Mart clerk who sold Hassan the knives he used to murder and mutilate his wife.  The transaction took place just hours before the murders, and Hassan was unrushed, cool, calm, and collected.  He tried the knives’ effectiveness out on a piece of cardboard.

The trial resumes on Monday.

(Thanks to the Buffalo News for its article, and to Laura Gray (Channel 7), Marissa Bailey (Channel 2), and Steve Cichon (WBEN) for their live Tweets.

Have We Yet Gained the Brains?

20 Jan

Richard Florida, observer of cities, has a new piece in The Atlantic noting the changing migration patterns of the young and educated. For those not familiar with his work, Florida is a business professor and institute director at the University of Toronto, a former Buffalonian, and promoter of various Creative Class theories which, in short, state that if your city can attract enough educated, diverse, talented, gay and young people, you’re going to turn out okay. Florida lists wooing the Creative Class as the number one job of cities, and so tracks what works and what doesn’t.

The latest info (from a Brookings Institution report) says Buffalo, and the rest of the Rust Belt, is doing a lot better than it has in the recent past. Buffalo has cut its young/educated loss rate in the last four years from 0.85% to 0.45%. That’s better than Cleveland and New York, and roughly equal to Los Angeles and Chicago. And several Rust Belt cities – Pittsburgh, Columbus, Baltimore –  have even seen their losses turn into gains. What accounts for this change?

Florida attributes it to lower migration overall (due to the Great Recession), a transformation in Rust Belt cities of manufacturing economies to knowledge based economies, and efforts of cities generally to be more inviting to young people. But does this theory hold water for Buffalo?

Chris Smith regularly reports on Buffalo’s positive economic data, and how our metro has faired well in the Great Recession. Most Buffalonians also know the great statistics about relative cost of living and low commute times. Buffalo Rising readers may also note the influx of converted loft-residences downtown as signs that the city is not just attractive to young people, but successfully courting them. I remain suspicious.

The Federal Reserve’s Buffalo office report on the matter says we do not suffer from an overly large brain drain, but an insufficient brain gain. In every metro, even booming places like Austin and (until recently) Charlotte, some young people leave. In this regard, Buffalo is like everywhere else – it sends its young off to seek greener pastures. But unlike other cities, we don’t do well attracting the nation’s youth, and experience a minimal brain gain. Unfortunately, this report contains no data to show otherwise. To cut our loss rate in half, we could simply have lost fewer brains, and gained no more.

Anecdotal evidence alone says Buffalo is still not doing well in providing that ultimate carrot to youth: quality jobs. Buffalo has far more intellectual capital than monetary, and this imbalance shows itself in a surge of citizen’s groups, demands for open mic nights for development projects, ironic winter festivals and the Buffalo Expat Network. In cities with the opposite problem, everyone is too busy working and making money to care about much of anything. Young people that do find jobs here are often under-employed, as greying middle managers are stuck in mid-salary positions with mid-salary responsibilities. With a plethora of back office work and few leadership positions available, the Buffalo corporate ladder looks more like a step-stool with not many places to go. As a friend of mine, a University of Chicago trained economist who worked for Citi in Amherst, once said: “If the work is important, it’s not being done here.” He has since moved on himself.

A shortage of quality jobs leads to nepotism and connections completely overwhelming qualifications – if you are an outsider, a recent transplant, and not “from here,” or from the “old neighborhood” in some places still, you have little chance of even hearing about jobs, much less securing them. The City of Good Neighbors culture is friendly to its own and suspicious of others coming to take the few remaining scraps.

This culture changes when jobs are readily available, and enough new blood is regularly arriving to soften old perceptions or break down networks built from grade school. Until Buffalo moves from the “loss” to the “gain” column in these demographics reports, I will be unconvinced we have truly turned a corner. Like I have said before, the solution to many of our problems is Growth.

Bill O’Loughlin and the Choo-Choo Train

20 Jan

If you’re not listening to Bill O’Loughlin’s “talk radio the way it oughtta be” on WECK 1230-AM from 9-11 weekdays, you’re missing out.  Aside from the fact that he doesn’t pack his show with ghost stories and seditious hate speech, he’s got a distinctive delivery and prides himself on taking topics on occasional tangential journeys.  His live ads for Russell’s Steaks, Chops & More are downright hypnotic.

Seriously, it should be our goal to make his show an ironic cult favorite among Buffalo’s under-30 hipster set.

One of his loyal fans put together this “Choo choo train” montage, and it offers up a sampling of the above. Enjoy.

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The Hassan Case So Far

20 Jan

I wish that the Hassan murder trial had taken place a month and a half ago so I could have attended and live-blogged/tweeted it.  It’s absolutely captivating for two reasons – firstly, the personality disorders that led Hassan to be a cold, calculated, premeditated murderer are playing out even during the trial; secondly, the sheer chutzpah of his defense strategy; and thirdly, the fact that it sheds light on spousal abuse – that it crosses neighborhood, cultural, and socioeconomic boundaries.

I’m not a psychiatrist, so I can’t diagnose this guy, but it would seem as if he’s a sadistic narcissist at best.  He’s currently mounting a defense that can be summed up as “but she was mean to me”, setting himself up for a “battered spouse” “extreme emotional distress” type defense.  If the jury buys it, that Aasiyah Zubair’s alleged mistreatment of Muzzammil led him to lash out in a sudden fit of rage of extreme emotional distress, maybe he gets away with manslaughter rather than murder, and a shorter sentence.  It’s also possible to use extreme emotional distress as part of a straight insanity case, but this guy has had problems securing the services of an expert witness to testify that he didn’t know what he was doing because of a temporary insanity.

It’s a long-shot, but it’s the best he’s got given that he confessed to the act itself, so all that’s left to litigate is his state of mind.

But the facts today don’t bear out a person in extreme emotional distress who suddenly lashed out.  This was quite evidently planned and pre-meditated.  So far, the jury has seen surveillance video showing Hassan buying at Wal*Mart the hunting knives he used to murder and mutilate his wife, and it shows him calmly trying out their effectiveness on some cardboard.  He used so much force while beheading his wife that there were gouges made in the tile floor below.

Further bolstering that this was planned and premeditated, Hassan hid his car where his wife wouldn’t notice it as he laid in wait for her in the darkened Bridges studios.  When his older son, waiting in Aasiyah’s minivan outside, became worried, Muzzammil drove up out of nowhere and calmly handed him an M&T envelope full of cash, and drove away.

Those are not the acts of someone who snapped – they are the acts of a narcissistic psychopath who was going to punish his wife for her insolence and insult to his manhood.  After all, he had made her sign a manipulative and illegal “memorandum of understanding” where she agreed to never speak ill of him to the cops, or anyone else.  If she violated it, Hassan would limit her access to the kids.

Hassan’s older kids both testified about Hassan’s repeated physical and mental abuse of Aasiyah, and the family babysitter recounted a time she was driving Aasiyah and the kids to the airport and Muzzammil ran them off the road.  His family lived in physical and mental fear of him.  It was revealed that Hassan offered to pay off his older daughter if she’d agree not to testify against him – like a common mobster.

But one of the sickest things that happened yesterday was that, when it came time for his older daughter and the family babysitter to testify, Muzzammil Hassan asked the judge to permit him to conduct the cross-examination.  The judge rightfully denied that request, and asked Hassan why he would want to put his daughter through that.  It was a sickening request by a horrible and manipulative tyrant.  It also sets Hassan up for years’ worth of jailhouse appeals to claim that his defense was ineffective, or that the judge erred – all of which will fail, but will ensure that Mr. Hassan keeps busy during his lengthy tenure in Attica.

The trial continues today, and you can follow along by searching for “#Hassan” on Twitter.  Several local reporters are live-tweeting the proceedings using that hashtag, including Channel 7’s John Borsa and Laura Gray, WBEN’s Steve Cichon, Channel 2 and reporter Marissa Bailey.  (Channel 4 is doing so, as well, but as they’re not using the hashtag, their Tweets get lost in the fog of the other 1,000 people I follow.)  The Buffalo News is live-blogging the proceedings.

Some have expressed a desire not to follow this trial, or that it’s ridiculous that a trial is taking place for someone who beheaded his wife.  Perhaps, but this trial is Aasiyah’s only chance to be heard, as a victim.  It’s her only shot at justice, and I want to hear and read the details of the torment she underwent for years.

I’m also reminded that at least one local commentator tried to make Islamophobic hay of this whole incident – that it was somehow caused or exacerbated by the family’s faith or ethnicity.  A more scurrilous and ignorant accusation could not possibly exist.  It’s being reported in the national press, and even in the UK, where there is a large Pakistani population.  But because it’s Muslim-on-Muslim crime, not Muslim-on-fill-in-the-blank, it’s not a cable-news case-celebre.  Think about it. What would Fox and the rest of them be doing with this case if the victim was named Sheila Jones instead of Aasiyah Zubair?

How the Left Lost Religion

18 Jan

One day a year, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr still dominates the airwaves. Yesterday was his day, and news organizations fill much of the non-prime time with filler of King speeches, interviews and stories. As I drove around yesterday doing my errands, listening to excerpts of King’s addresses on the radio, I was struck once again by his choice of language and tone. Allow me to choose, as representative of much of his oratory, this paragraph from the Presidential Address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, on what must have been a sweltering August 16th, 1967:

Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol houses a governor who will do justly, who will love mercy and who will walk humbly with his God. Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall, justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. Let us be dissatisfied. And men will recognize that out of one blood God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. Let us be dissatisfied until that day when nobody will shout White Power! — when nobody will shout Black Power!—but everybody will talk about God’s power and human power.

This paragraph has it all. An expectation of civil equality. A plea to move past racial divisions to “human power.” A call to stand firm, and an implication that “dissatisfaction” may take some time. And most notable to me, in direct contradiction with today’s America, constant, eloquent, unapologetic Biblical imagery and religious language. This is the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, after all. Which made me ask: when did the Left loose its faith?

I seek no self-serving whitewashing of history, and I certainly won’t try to turn an ardent pacifist into a supporter of foreign wars (note to the Pentagon: next MLK Day, crow about the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and link it to King’s legacy). The civil rights movement was firmly Liberal, and conservatives were on the wrong side of history. But King’s movement was also a tidal wave of faith with a religious conviction that eventually justice would be done, according to God’s will. It is impossible to escape God in King’s writings and speeches. The Left had no issue with that 40 years ago.

Obviously, much has changed. If I may summarize the current political situation, from a lefty perspective, it would go something like this: smart people are Liberals because they think rationally, and Liberalism is inherently so. Dumb people are conservative and Republican because they are sheeple that believe in God (and guns). Liberals are atheists because believing the earth is 6000 years old is dumb, and Liberals are smart. They have a study to prove it. Smart people don’t need God, they have Humanism and the Flying Spagehtti Monster.

Of all the alignments of ideology with political party in the last forty years, the disappearance of the religious Liberal is one of the least recognized. The Religious Right is famously faithful, conservative, and reliably Republican, in numbers almost as stark as African-Americans are Democratic. In response to this political power, atheists have become more vocal and public, releasing popular books and becoming more fervent, seemingly not only in their nonbelief, but also in their dismissal of the faithful (see: Dumb Sheeple, above).

Yes, most Democratic politicians maintain a faithful public persona. And the African-American civil rights community never left their churches. But increasingly religiousness also cleaves along political boundaries, at least among the leadership, spokespeople, and pundits. Too-Catholic John Kennedy has been replaced by Bill Maher. Liberal Hawks who opposed the Soviet Union because of its godlessness have been replaced with activists equating Muslim and Christian crimes in the spat over the Islamic Cultural Center near the Ground Zero (I’m not trying to argue the merits here, please, only characterize the tone). On issues of prayer in school, the 10 Commandments at courthouses, abortion, etc, the loudest voices could be as easily described as Atheist versus Christian as Left versus Right.

So, I wonder, how do modern Liberals view this icon’s religious faith, now the public preserve of the Right? It is certainly glossed over in polite conversation. Is it an embarrassment? An inconvenience? An allowed imperfection? I am honestly looking forward to the answer in the comments below.

Largely Symbolic, Locally Stupid

18 Jan

Many thanks to the Republican congress for finally freeing us from the tyranny-at-gunpoint of $32 million in regional federal investment in pork barrel projects such as:

Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station $9.5 million
Lake Ontario/Niagara River navigation $4.2 million
Cyclotron at UB research center $3.7 million
Statler transportation facility $3 million
Viral research at Hauptman-Woodward Institute $2 million
Darwin Martin House improvements $1 million
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus streetscape improvements $1 million

Although it does sometimes seem as if the Darwin Martin House is the biggest welfare queen in Buffalo, I have a huge problem with losing funding for things like viral research and the Cyclotron.  We’re pretty good here in western New York of maintaining a mediocre economic status quo, so when Washington throws us a bone we should run for it, not from it.   After all, it’s not the federal government at the root of that mediocrity, and New York State is a net federal payor.

Earmarks get a lot of attention because they’re easy for people to understand, and easy for some politicians to heap scorn upon, but they’re real projects that benefit real people and create real private-sector jobs.  In the case of medical or scientific research, they can have scientific and economic benefits that last decades.  After all, a lot is riding on the medical campus, as it represents a huge effort to move our region further away from its long-gone industrial past and into a 21st-century knowledge-based economy.

I challenge anyone to tell me why a C-130 flight operations center at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is mere “pork” – like a bridge to nowhere – with no federal benefit.

While the sole Republican representative from the Buffalo area, Chris Lee (NY-26), says it’s indicative of an effort to stop “reckless spending”, that sort of comment does a disservice to the projects themselves.  There’s nothing “reckless” about an investment in Buffalo’s future, it’s common sense. And given that earmarks make up less than 0.5% of the federal budget, talk of this earmark ban being some sort of return to fiscal sanity is just a lie.  This is macro window dressing, with very poor micro effects.

In the meantime, the United States spends around $700 billion per year for defense alone, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – about $2 thousand million per day out of a $3.5 trillion budget.

I guess things in Washington are not that dissimilar from our own Erie County Legislature – we get all worked up about minutiae, ignoring the bigger picture.

Blog Scrum in the Papers

17 Jan

Donn Esmonde’s last three Buffalo News columns (first, second, third) have basically amounted to the equivalent of a blog fight.  Except he’s not a blogger, and he’s fighting with the whole country of Canada, represented humorously and accurately by Toronto Star writer Cathal Kelly.

Perhaps it’s time for him to drop it?

Escape the Urban Book Review: A Sand County Almanac

16 Jan

The world does not need another book review of Aldo Leopold’s classic ecological love song, “A Sand County Almanac.” Its author has already taken his place in the Parthenon, a select evolving lineage of naturalist writers: Thoreau begat Muir, Muir begat Leopold, Leopold begat Carson. The small, insightful observations of a year in a shack in the rolling mixed Wisconsin woodlands, the Almanac finds beauty and meaning in the footprints of mice in the snow and the rings of a felled oak tree. It has inspired several generations of environmentalists, scientists and artists alike, who revere and point to it as the genesis of their work. 

So instead of singing its praises with my small voice, let me instead point you towards a specific passage, Leopold’s own Forward from the first edition, for our deliberation and discussion.

I reproduce it in its entirety here, as Leopold’s prose is so tightly packed with nuance and meaning, any abbreviation eliminates the context and mood required for understanding. Although copywrited, I set it down here as it is freely available for your perusal at Amazon:

There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.

Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question whether a still higher “standard of living” is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important then television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech.

These wild things, I admit, had little human value until mechanization assured us of a good breakfast, and until science disclosed the drama of where they come from and how they live. The whole conflict thus boils down to a question of degree. We of the minority see a law of diminishing returns in progress; our opponents do not.

Conservation is getting nowhere because it is incompatible with our Abrahamic concept of land. We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. There is no other way for land to survive the impact of mechanized man, nor for us to reap from it the esthetic harvest it is capable, under science, of contributing to culture.

That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology, but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. That land yields a cultural harvest is a fact long known, but latterly often forgotten.

These essays attempt to weld these three concepts.

Such a view of land and people is, of course. subject to the blurs and distortions of personal experience and personal bias. But wherever the truth may lie, this much is crystal-clear: our bigger-and-better society is now like a hypochondriac, so obsessed with its own economic health as to have lost the capacity to remain healthy. The whole world is so greedy for more bathtubs that it has lost the stability necessary to build them, or even to turn off the tap. Nothing could be more salutary at this stage than a little healthy contempt for a plethora of material blessings.

Perhaps such a shift of values can be achieved by reappraising things unnatural, tame, and confined in terms of things natural, wild and free.

Aldo Leopold

Madison, Wisconsin, March 4, 1948

I find the date of that Forward shocking – it was written not just before today’s hyper-kinetic Information Age, or the consumerism that blossomed in the 1970’s and ’80’s, but even prior to the post-war building explosion, the laying of the Eisenhower Interstates, and baby-boom driven materialism and sprawltopia. In an arguable Golden Age of cities and urban spaces, Leopold sees mechanization destroying the empty wild.

One is forced to draw, or perhaps choose among, several contradictory conclusions from the age and content of Leopold’s pleas. First, perhaps, that Leopold is a visionary who saw a battle looming before his time. Those who look to him as a Founding Father probably fall in this camp. Second, hopeless discouragement at the futility of the environmental movement, and that the dream of changing American culture is fool-hardy at best. And (or) third, that environmentalists are fear-mongers, carping hysterically in every epoch about the dangers to a planet that endures despite predictions to the contrary. There are certainly more televisions, mechanizations and bathtubs now than 63 years ago, and we’re doing just fine, thank you very much. 

Or are we?

The debate over Climate Change – its political divisions and incessent marketing – sucks the oxygen out of progress on environmental policy issues that are plainly understood and indisputable: habitat destruction, threats to endangered species, toxic waste emissions, clean water and air. These are issues that do not require easily mocked apocalyptic predictions or inappropriate meteorological evidence that can be easily dismissed as fear mongering. They are simply measured and spoken of. Our world’s population growth, sprawl and desire for more bathtubs leaves less room for the plants, animals and ecological processes that renew our air and water. We must find space for them to ensure space for ourselves. 

By that measure, while we are not doing fine, we are better than we have been in the not too distant past. Between Leopold’s writing and today we hit a low apogee that I hope we do not repeat. Our world does not need a double dip environmental depression.

So I do not see Leopold as a unique visionary: for as long as man has lived next to man, we have sought solitude from the hurly burly. I also not see him as a environmental Nostradamus, scaring us to change or else declaring the end as nigh. Instead, I see him as an eloquent laborer whose task has proven larger and more difficult than perhaps he and other naturalist progenitors initially realized. Rolling the ecological rock up the hill is not futile – there have been small victories along a long path. American culture is perhaps finally generally aware of its impact on the earth, and more and more of the general public is looking for ways to tread more lightly. That our collective choices are still generally harmful, or that “green” marketing is more about the color of money than of earth, does not mean progress has not been made. An ecologically mindful populace, one that makes a thousand small environmental lifestyle decisions a day, is a slowly molded vessel, and the creation of such a thing is still worth pursuing, 63 or 163 years later.

Palin’s Breath

14 Jan

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Taken from her all-about-her blood libel speech. Put together by “Wreck and Salvage” .