Lots of sun and clear skies are essential for a comfortable canoe trip on a cold fall day, as well as a few restful stops as Don Corrigan takes here on the Current River.
by Don Corrigan
Forget a raging viral pandemic. Forget the raging political chaos. Forget the raised voices – the blame game and finger-pointing. This nature boy retreated to the wilderness of the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry in the Ozarks to forget the whole, tired, human mess for a little while.
And did I find peace of mind on the waters of the Current River in a land bereft of cell phone reception?
No. Not at all. I discovered a giant crack in the Earth. I discovered an ancient rift known as the “Missouri Gravity Low.” It runs from northwest Missouri to southeast Missouri and is estimated to be a billion years old. It is part of a larger 1,700 mile “Crack Across America.”
If the “Missouri Gravity Low” ever gives way, we are all sunk. We will all be put out of our Missouri … I mean Misery. We will fall into a crack in the Earth that last saw a bit of activity in New Madrid in 1811-12. We could fall into what’s called the “Midcontinental Basement,” a fracture so deep, it might as well be halfway to China.
Women have always been in the forefront of the fight to protect the outdoors and the environment in St. Louis and nationally. That was part of the message that Environmental Echo Editor Don Corrigan emphasized in a prepared statement for his induction into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame on Oct. 3.
“It seems fitting that in this ‘Century Year of the Suffragettes’ and strong women, that there should be mention the many good women who helped the Webster-Kirkwood Times as advocates and, indeed, as mentors and sources,” declared Corrigan, who also has served as editor-in-chief for Times Newspapers. “These women put hours of energy into protecting the outdoors and for environmental safety.”
Dwight Bitikofer and Don Corrigan of Webster-Kirkwood Times, Inc., will be inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame on Oct. 3 to honor more than 40 years of community journalism. In his prepared remarks, Corrigan will cite the many women who have supported local journalism on the environment and the outdoors.
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America and St. Louis are having conversations about race after the tragic incidents in Minneapolis, Louisville and Atlanta. These conversations may seem tangential to environmental concerns, but we at Environmental Echo have decided to dive back into our archives and re-post an interview with Carolyn Finney, Ph.D.
Originally published in February 2016, the podcast interview (below) is an in-depth conversation about African-Americans who connect with nature and the outdoors. There are damaging “myths” and a lack of appreciation for the contributions Black Americans have made in environmental history.
(From the 2016 Environmental Echo post)
Carolyn Finney, Ph.D., is the guest on this edition of “Behind the Editor’s Curtain” with Don Corrigan. Finney is the author of “Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors.”
Speaking about the absence of African-Americans engaging in outdoor activities portrayed in popular culture, such as in movies and magazines, Dr. Finney notes:
“Just because we don’t see any (African-Americans) doesn’t mean there aren’t any. That’s myth number one,” Finney said. “Actually, Black people, like everybody else, have been around doing everything like everybody else since the beginning of the time. You have Black mariners, you have Black hikers, you have Black people camping — I mean, Black people have been doing it, too.”
The topic of discussion is the relationship between the Black community and outdoor spaces and related activities, like national parks, hiking, and mountain climbing.
“I used to spin that toilet paper like I was on Wheel of Fortune. Now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.” Several readers sent this piece of humor to me about a month ago. Unfortunately, it’s still relevant in the continuing age of the 2020 Pandemic.
I shopped at several grocery stores just in the last week. The squeeze on Charmin supplies is still ongoing. The cupboards were bare at several stores, except for a sign about rationing – only one package of Charmin, Angel, Coronet or Cottonelle per customer.
Toilet paper is still one of the most coveted items for care packages being assembled at local food banks and beyond. Rolls of paper are gladly accepted at Webster-Rock Hill Ministries. State Rep. Deb Lavender, D-Kirkwood, has put out a call for this essential commodity for those in need on so many levels.
The United States is facing a challenging time. The simple task of going to the grocery store has become stressful for many as bare shelves, empty meat cases and rationing have greeted frustrated shoppers.
But this is not the first challenge our society has faced when it comes to food and supply shortages. During World War II, our parents and grandparents faced even harder situations and within longer periods of time.
Ordinary citizens were encouraged to grow gardens in backyards, vacant lots, rooftops and any available unused accessible areas. They were dubbed “Victory Gardens” and according to a story in the Farmers’ Almanac, there were tens of millions of “Victory Gardens” planted during WWII, which produced millions of tons of fresh veggies and fruits to help combat food shortages.
Now, a slew of information is currently being published about a possible resurgence of interest in “Victory Gardens.”
Pope Francis delivered a controversial message during Holy Week that will have people in and outside the Catholic Church talking long after Easter passes. Conservative critics of Pope Francis have warned that he should stay in his lane – a strictly religious lane – but he has become more outspoken with the crisis of the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic.
“There is an expression in Spanish: ‘God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives,’” Francis said in the interview published April 8. “We did not respond to the partial catastrophes. Who now speaks of the fires in Australia, or remembers that a year and a half ago a boat could cross the North Pole because the glaciers had all melted? Who speaks now of the floods?
“I don’t know if it is nature’s revenge, but it is certainly nature’s response,” Pope Francis added. “Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity: the opportunity to move out from the danger,” he said. “Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world.”
Francis became the first pope in Catholic Church history to devote an entire encyclical to the issue of care for the environment, in which he condemned human exploitation of nature.
On a hike in the age of pandemic this past weekend, an acquaintance noted how the sky has not been this blue since the week after 9/11. There is minimal air traffic, so the skies get a breather from the burning jet fuel, contrails and all the airliners’ heat-trapping gases.
Don’t get me wrong. This column is not about the Green New Deal and its plans for the likes of Southwest or American Airlines. I’m a believer in keeping the skies friendly for air travel, at least until my daughter gets home from Dublin, where she says she is working in a “Shelter-in-Place Paradise.”
This missive is actually about how we are now taking refuge in nature. We are discovering purple wildflowers, blooming dogwoods and pondering “nothing but blue skies,” as Willie Nelson sings.
It’s painful for Environmental Echo to receive the notices of closings and cancellations of nature outings, green activities and environmental meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic that now affects the St. Louis area and more than 140 countries.
This spreading disease is deadly serious, environmentally destructive and totally global in consequence. Obviously, it was mistake for the administration to fire the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Pandemic Response Team two years ago.
It might be time to reconsider the firing of that unit, as well as the quashing of the annual reports out of the U.S. Defense Department on “Preparing the United States for Impacts of Climate Change,” which were started in 2013. Those reports include information on pandemics.
Funky Winkerbean’s cartoon creator, Tom Batiuk, is on a roll about squirrels. Hundreds of readers sent me his comic strips on squirrels. Actually, more than hundreds – enough people to fill up the National Mall on Inauguration Day!
Funky Winkerbean may be tickling people’s fancy with this comic squirrel subterfuge, but the actual truth about the American Gray Squirrel is no laughing matter. So, let’s get on it.
Headlines in Britain now are all about the Royals’ big crisis and strife involving the Queen, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It’s a hoax, folks. The headlines are a smokescreen. The stories should be about Prince Charles and his war against American Gray Squirrels. It’s a dirty little war. It has taken an ugly turn. Continue reading →