by Martin Murie
(Swans - March 23, 2009) The first of April: an exciting day for the launch of the first digital issue of The Canyon Country Zephyr, edited by Jim Stiles, on the World Wide Web. I know that many readers of The Zephyr mourn the last paper issue, and so do I, having gotten used to reading ink on paper all these many years. But the challenge is there, to reach a planetary readership. Besides, the new on-line Z has a convenient zoom button: press it to get whatever size font you want.
So, flock of big, tough birds, let's celebrate The Zephyr's launch, and also the beginning of our own attempts to reach further into the world. [ed. the author is referring to a new feature we are going to launch next month, le coin français.]
This deep world crisis is creating uprisings and turmoil and sufferings, and some uprisings and sufferings have been there quite a while and we've not been told by our sad-sack TV, radio, and newspapers. Hey, let's rise up and beat the media to the punch, let's let the world know we are putting behind us the mild journalism of today to reach new heights of honesty and factuality and passion.
I've been sending Jim Stiles e-mails of biologists from around the world -- Mexico, Canada, Europe, Australia, Latin America, et cetera. I get the e-mails from my copies of Journal of Mammalogy, which is larger nowadays, and has itself become a world-wide journal, receiving scientific pieces from all over the planet. Hundreds, thousands of e-mails can be put to use by the new on-line Z, to gather readers. And so, one way to celebrate is to send e-mails to the Z.
Why am I pushing the Z so hard? Because I'm sick and tired of the Big Greens and many of the middle-sized Greens' self-serving cowtowings to mainstream. Just by chance I happened to discover The Zephyr and was so impressed I detoured to Moab, Utah, and met Jim in the Broiler where I had one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, and Jim and I talked and I subscribed.
Jim is a gifted cartoonist, humorist, and all-around probing researcher, challenging the go-along-to-get-along that is ravaging so many environmental organizations these days. It's really a sad scene out there in the mainstream -- the ruling motto among environmentalists and conservationists seems to be "Compromise Long Before Your Back Is Against The Wall." David Brower of the Sierra Club headed up the struggle against Glen Canyon Dam. He kicked himself later, time and time again, for compromising before the movement had its back against the wall. Those were the days when enviros could, once in a while, mount huge masses of people to fight the good fight. Well, the movement was still powerful and Brower realized too late that the movement had compromised too early. He kept on telling us about that misjudgment, warning us. Looking back, we can see that his words didn't register deep enough. The hunger to be accepted, to be in, is a virus against which most enviros' immune systems are not equipped to fight.
It's time to remind everyone that climate change is real. Speak to a polar bear in the arctic, or a penguin in the Antarctic, if you have any doubts about that. We are an endangered species, and I don't mind following Brower's footsteps, repeating myself.
All right, while we're celebrating, let's not go overboard. The ecology of our good earth has been plundered for centuries. It is now payback time. But I don't mean we are obliged to make the earth a one-issue crusade. That would be disaster for a journal like Swans. I think one thing we in the flock agree on is that this world crisis interconnects all the crises: the cultural, the poetic, the stage, the media, governments, and the economic crash so blatantly garnished with punditry's ignorance of the real world. Let's hammer away at all of these human creations, as we've been doing. I study Guido Monte's multilingual poems and the sparkling reviews of books and media and original research in each issue of Swans and the dissection of barbarism, aka WARS, as we all try our best to link these crises into a grand scheme of ecology, so complex that none of us knows it all.
But please, let's not forget the earth. Let's go forth beating our big wings while flaunting strong black beaks and gimlet eyes.
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