Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sustaining Minnesota

Today, I've been thinking about [way] back to when I was in college. I don't recall that I, or any of my friends, spent time wondering what it would take to live a sustainable life. This was before the Brundtland Commission's report Our Common Future. It was also well before more than half of humanity lived in cities. Minnesota has been a bit of a bell weather on the global urbanization trend. In 1990, nearly 70% of Minnesota's population was urban. World wide, this ratio isn't projected to occur until 2050. Earlier this week I heard Chuck Mahron talking about the loss of population from our rural centers and saying that many rural centers may just "disappear." He was part of an MPR initiative called Fighting for an American Countryside. Frankly, that's something we all need to take a closer look at. In a similar vein, yesterday, I discovered a wonderful interview with Wendell Berry by Bill Moyers on Resettling the Countryside. I was so pleased to see the solar panels on the hillside of Berry's farm, even though he doesn't have a TV and doesn't use a computer. He's become a strong advocate against mountain top removal coal mining. He's also pointing out that destroying the earth to make a profit shouldn't be allowed and we're the ones that are allowing it. Here's a picture of one part of my world I wouldn't want to see destroyed.

photo of deer bedding area under pine trees
deer bed (sans deer)         © harrington

Denuded mountaintops don't accommodate many deer beds. No fawns to watch come Spring, no fish in the valley streams that have been filled in with "spoils." (an apt term if ever there was one.) So, to pint out the obvious, if we all supplied our electricity with solar panels, we'd eliminate most of the market for coal and any profit from removing mountaintops. It's up to us. By the way, have you seen the recent reports about how the cost of solar has dropped? So, imagine, if you will, what your reaction would be to eliminating the parts of Minnesota that look like this so we could all save a penny or so per kilowatt hour on our electric bills. Doesn't seem like much of a bargain to me.

photo of Minnesota Autumn
Minnesota Autumn            © harrington

One of the other great discoveries I made yesterday was a Wendell Berry poem entitled A Warning to My Readers.

A Warning To My Readers

Do not think me gentle
because I speak in praise
of gentleness, or elegant
because I honor the grace
that keeps this world. I am
a man crude as any,
gross of speech, intolerant,
stubborn, angry, full
of fits and furies. That I
may have spoken well
at times, is not natural.
A wonder is what it is.

Wendell Berry

Don't you think the times we're living in call for more and more of us to reflect this perspective? Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, Raves and Reflections served here daily (sometimes all together).