YOUTH VOTE … For the past seven years the Southwest Colorado Chapter of the Green Party in Montezuma County has been sponsoring a candidate forum at the Montezuma-Cortez High School. This year they asked me to moderate, which meant guiding students through a morning civics class in American democracy … I did an intro, and got to do a short summation on the importance and responsibility of voting at the end. But most of the two-hour special program for civics class students from MCHS, Dolores High School and SouthWest Open School got taken up with a roundtable give-and-take directly among students and candidates. Each candidate took a seat at one of eight tables, and the 100 or so kids were parceled out in small clusters of a dozen or so. Candidates included 58th Colorado House District candidates Noelle Hagan of Montrose and hometown favorite Scott Tipton of Cortez; Montezuma County Commissioner candidates Fred Blackburn and Alfred Hughes (incumbent Larrie Rule called in sick and candidate Paul Young was a no-show); 22nd District Attorney candidates, incumbent James Wilson and challenger Mac Myers; and members of the League of Women Voters talking about the many bond issues. Students spent a half-hour with one candidate, and then moved to a second table for the second half-hour … Since I know Commissioner Rule and have attended meetings with him, I took his table and tried to explain his political philosophy as best I could, although he is a very conservative Republican. That was an interesting exercise, but soon the kids were more interested in getting my reactions to their questions – “Do you believe in gun control?” “Should schools be run democratically?” and a long discussion led by one young woman about Amendment 48 and how making zygotes persons could lead to far more teen pregnancies … It was gritty stuff. Good stuff to be discussed. And I spoke at the end of how democracy only works if we get involved, informed. How voting was a responsibility of a citizen, and how important and precious it was to be able to make our choices known, and to have our choice be honored to represent us … The more I reflected on the afternoon, the more sense it made to offer this kind of program for our young people. And the prouder I was of the Southwestern Colorado Chapter of the Colorado Green Party. What better way to further the key value of grassroots democracy than by hosting a forum for youth about to be given the franchise of voting?
NORWOODSTOCK … OK, the T-shirt logo may have been over the top, but the Norwood Arts & Music Festival two weeks ago was one helluva party, with kickass bands and wild women and wild men, dancing and partying. Plus, there were great booths, private parties and the kind of mingling that you don’t see up in Telluride as much anymore – Rastafarians and bikers right up along side ranchers and framers … ’Course, my fav performance was hearing the illustrious Joan McKinney tinkling the ivories in the old Log Cabin. What a gifted pianist, and she doesn’t read music, does it all from ear. She had many of us, old and young (a category that’s becoming increasingly fuzzy for this paleohippie), entranced or moved to sing along … The first annual NAMF put Norwood on the map as heavy on the happening and short on the once-familiar snores. It was a rock-em sock-em Saturday night along the Gurley Ditch and out back beside the fire station … Huge kudos to everyone connected to this marvelous first timer, but I want to single out Jim and Steve Dabal, Margie Huebner, Pirate Rob, Anatasia Turner, and Kristina Stellhorn for all the work they did in getting the event off the ground … It was nice to have the entire Lower Basin community involved – Nucla to Norwood Hill. There may be imaginary county boundaries separating the San Miguel Basin, but it’s all one watershed on the ground … Two Candles and the Livery are GREAT venues, and the Log Cabin is about as historical as it gets beyond Telluride’s mining camp Victorians … Let’s do that again!
MAN OF LETTERS … I love it when Texans start telling us that we’ve Californicated Telluride and lost our uniqueness. I take one look at the Valley Floor and laugh.
WEEKLY QUOTA … "Republicans believe in socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor." -John Kenneth Galbraith … You know, as a political progressive, passionately interested in social justice since I left the Catholic seminary 40 years ago, it’s embarrassingly ironic to watch a Republican administration propose a bailout, which is really a buy-out, which is really the state taking control of private financial institutions. A textbook case of socialist policy – nationalizing the means of production … It’s hard for me to understand how anyone in the Republican Party could claim to be a conservative (no matter how much lipstick you put on the pig) when their highest elected official has chosen socialism (not the free market) to deal with our current financial crisis … No wonder I’m a Green.
DEAD TREE TOUR … John Irwin has long attempted to get CDOT’s attention about the dead and dying trees along the scenic byway right-of-way from Placerville to the Mountain Village turnoff on Colo. Hwy. 145. He’s written letters, come to meetings. Finally, the county set up a field tour with CDOT’s Mike McVaugh and some of his crew to 1) look at the damage, 2) brainstorm the causes and 3) come up with a program of removal in the short run and operational changes for the long term … Last week Mike Horner and I led a team of county staffers along with CDOT on an hour ride up and down the affected corridor. Lots of issues came up – mag chloride, drought, insects, right-of-way, aerosol nature of mag chloride damage (the extent of damage being directly correlated to the speed of vehicles on the highway), turnouts, county hauling assistance for dead tree removal, highway closures, a county free-firewood program below the Deep Creek shop, a possible signage program for voluntary speed reduction in the winter, and CDOT’s five-year monitoring on Hwy. 145 that showed increased safety numbers – directly attributable to their mag chloride use … While those of us in the county Suburban that day reached a level of comfort with CDOT’s response to Irwin and the county’s concerns, I proposed that CDOT give a public presentation at the winter or spring Intergovernmental Group Meet. I’m hoping by then they’ll be unveiling a program to address the dead tree issue – including periodic dead tree removal and reduced mag chloride use along the scenic byway; and, of course, continuing their search for a comparably priced alternative to mag chloride. Stay tuned, and keep your eyes looking upward as well as ahead.
© 2008 Art Goodtimes
THE TALKING GOURD
on the occasion of
John & Michi Babus’ wedding
reception, May 18, 2008
It’s obvious to see in birds
that one alone is admirable
in flight & color & pose.
But two are more than just one
twice, their paired moves,
the slightly different songs together,
the variation in plumage are
a choir of two. When they
migrate apart & then join again
for even a short distance, it’s aching
to endure. But when the distance
is so great like the Artic Tern
from near the North Pole
to near Antarctica, it’s
a fable come true of two.