DEMOCRACY? … With politics considered a dirty word and Congress’s approval rating running somewhere around 9 percent, there’s a lot more that needs changing in D.C. besides just the leadership … It really struck me when I went down to Cortez to facilitate a high school candidate forum before this election, “Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport” – an annual exercise run by the local Southwest Colorado Green chapter. Answering questions from civics class seniors from all over Montezuma County, I explained to the students that we wonder why a sizeable number of citizens don’t exercise their franchise to vote – a right denied many people around the world. But think about it, I said. Are our schools democratic? No. They are run as an authoritarian system. There’s no freedom of the press. No voting for school policies. Power runs from the school board down through the superintendent and the principal on through the teachers and down finally to the students. Students and their student councils are not empowered to control anything more than maybe the date of the prom, and which band will play … So, we educate our kids for 12 to 20 years in an authoritarian system, and expect them to somehow emerge as good democratic citizens after being reared and trained to authoritarianism … Hardly. These same students enter the workplace where we engage in democracy at our jobs, right? Wrong! In the workplace we are under the authoritarian system of workers and bosses. Workers don’t vote on how to run their stores, plants or factories. The bosses set the rules, and the workers obey, or are fired … And so, we educate our kids to authoritarianism, make them spend most of their lives working under an authoritarian system, and then expect them to behave as empowered, well-informed citizens in the political realm, where they are called upon to educate themselves and vote once or twice a year. How unrealistic is that? It’s amazing that democracy has survived so well in this country for as long as it has.
SAVING PARADOX … At the end of last month. Hiking the tortured, twisted piñon-juniper slopes into groves of yellowleg ponderosa and the chaotic fractured rockforms of the uranium lands between Paradox Basin and Uravan. Dry country, slickrock, criss-crossed with old roads and near inaccessible escarpments. My hiking buddy and I stumbled, late in the afternoon, upon a copse of autumnal gold, young aspen, white-barked, all in a clone, backlit in sunlight. Hugging some deep seep below the surface soil. Ringed in lichened walls of rock and when we walked through, the gilded dusk light catching the amber leaves as they fell on us, we were transfixed. Caught off-guard, in “presumptuous amazement,” as Craig Childs would say.
WEEKLY QUOTA … “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.” -Edward Bernays
CELEBRATION … What an inspired evening at the Michael Palm on All Saints evening to catch the Telluride Dance Academy and the Telluride Choral Society and Chamber Orchestra in action! I went to hear my friend Rosemerry’s Telluride Suite: Seasons at 8,750 Feet put to music by the impressive Dr. David Lingle and sung by our own impressive choral society.
HALLOWEEN … Our family spent the night with Steve Green and Denise Mongan (our families pair up nicely, four and four) for this costume extravaganza, and in the process I managed to catch the Croke party, as Steve and I accompanied our kids on a candy-gathering walkabout. The Crokes provided a happy waystation for weary parents and other non-kids out chaperoning small gangs of trick-or-treaters around Catholic Hill and beyond. To my delight Marla and Kevin served up my favorite single malt scotch whiskey, Lagavulin – a peaty 16-year elixir from the Isle of Islay. Oo-la-la! … It fortified me for the rest of the night and into the fabulous late-night KOTO party at the Sheridan (a.k.a. Segerberg) Opera House with great dancing upstairs and down … But I must confess, I miss the ramshackle Quonset Hut of old, with that excess of space we once had … Maybe I’m just getting claustrophobic in my old age. Or maybe I’ve grown nostalgic for the big and multi-person costumes of old. Imagine if we could somehow turn the Idarado Mill into a multi-purpose art and conference center, with parking on the tailings? Now that would be a world-class draw.
THE TALKING GOURD
Top of Norwood Hill
in the Good ol’ U.S. of A.
A beautifully striped skunk
its tail a plume of alabaster & jet
on the highway where
in the country of haves
everything’s smatter & smidgeon.
What to make