Monday, September 22, 2014

Sustainably rural

Sometimes I get to share some really good news. Today is one of those times. If you read all of this posting, or almost any posting on My Minnesota, you can be reasonably sure that your intelligence, or at least your attention span, is well above average. If you're a regular reader, we already know that your taste is well above average. What triggered this pandering, you're probably wondering?

A new dawn for rural sustainability
Photo by J. Harrington

I've been faced with a challenging decision after reading a recent blog posting that notes that the average attention span of Americans has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds during the past decade or so. I came across the initial link on a different blog that was about the Internet moving to digital story telling and the need to keep it short. That comes from the "give 'em what they want" school of communications. As I read it, I could hear my mother's voice asking me "if all your friends jumped off the garage roof, would you join them?" Now, I'm in favor of telling a story in an effective way, but that doesn't mean I think we should reduce everything to accommodate the attention span of a goldfish. I give an audience (at least this one) more credit than that (plus, I have been known to talk or write more than the minimum absolutely required on a subject).

I'm going to assume you're familiar with the story of Romeo and Juliet and / or the way it was retold in West Side Story. The movie ran slightly more than 2.5 hours. I haven't tried to time the play, but 2.5 hours is more time than needed to Tweet: Boy and girl meet, fall in love, marry, screw up fundamental communications, one (West Side Story) or both (Romeo and Juliet) die. Although that's less than 140 characters, I don't find the synopsis very satisfying, nor do I intend to shorten postings here to something that can be read in less than ten seconds (unless I decide to start posting only haiku each day).

Here's more good news that ties together nicely with yesterday's climate change march: more and more rural communities are moving toward sustainability. The first of today's examples can be found on The Daily Yonder, the same blog that brought to my attention the growing interest in brief video messaging. A key paragraph about growing rural sustainability in Macomb, Illinois states:
The range of projects and groups is wide, including reducing solid waste, preserving historic areas, creating a new food cooperative, and starting two community supported agriculture operations. We’ve also established the Prairie Land Conservancy, Environmentally Concerned Citizens, Lamoine River Ecosystem Partnership and a green student organization.
The sun shines on Fond du Lac solar power
Photo by J. Harrington

Minnesota has a similar efforts through the University's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, but the other example I want to point out today comes from the Duluth News. The Fond du Lac Reservation will soon be the site of a $2.5 million, 1 megawatt, solar farm that will help power the band's Black Bear Casino. Minnesota Power is helping to develop and fund the project. If you read the whole article (it'll take more than 8 seconds) you'll see that the band has undertaken a number of projects helping to make the band more sustainable. (I had the pleasure of working with them during several years past on a couple of green affordable housing developments.)

Light-years

By Hester Knibbe

Translated By Jacquelyn Pope

It’s a beautiful world, you said,
with these trees, marshes, deserts,
grasses, rivers and seas

and so on. And the moon is really something
in its circuits
of relative radiance. Include

the wingèd M, voluptuous
Venus, hotheaded Mars, that lucky devil
J and cranky Saturn, of course, plus

U and N and the wanderer P, in short
the whole solar family, complete with its
Milky Way, and count up all the other

systems with dots and spots and in
that endless emptiness what you’ve got
is a commotion of you-know-what. It’s a beautiful

universe, you said, just take a good look
through the desert’s dark glasses
for instance or on your back

in seas of grass, take a good look
at the deluge of that Rorschach—we’re standing out there
somewhere, together.

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