In her column, Margaret Sullivan relates how local journalism is in serious decline—and that that’s bad for democracy. Newspapers serve as watchdogs over corruption, they inform citizens of civic and local happenings, and they serve as sources of vetted, credible information.
Print newspapers (and their associated reporters and staff) had already been adversely affected by the digital revolution (“Between 2005 and the start of the pandemic, about 2,100 newspapers closed their doors), and they were trying to adapt to that new reality when the pandemic struck. As she says, “Since the pandemic, at least 80 more papers have gone out of business, as have an undetermined number of other local publications . . .”
Sullivan characterizes areas of the country that no longer have local news as “news deserts,” and she refers to another phenomenon called “ghost newspapers” in which a paper still exists in name but, because it has lost many reporters and staff, it no longer thoroughly covers local events. In 2020, Sullivan wrote a book called Ghosting the News: Local Journalism and the Crisis of American Democracy.
Various organizations and members of Congress (our own Senator Maria Cantwell and Representative Dan Newhouse, for example) are working to support journalism, but, as Sullivan’s article makes clear, Americans themselves must recognize how a free, independent, and strong press is essential to a healthy democracy—and they must support it. As she notes: “Studies show that people who live in areas with poor local news coverage are less likely to vote, and when they do, they are more likely to do so strictly along party lines.”
Without solid journalism, we’re more likely to not think independently and to not vote informed but instead to spew the party line.
For current information about what’s being done to salvage the free press in America, please go to the recently established “Save the Free Press” website at https://company.seattletimes.com/save-the-free-press/. Per the newspaper article by Brier Dudley, “Free Press web site debuts,” Seattle Times, 12 Nov. 2021, https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/free-press-web-site-debuts/ the “Save the Free Press” website will serve as a “resource for educators and those wishing to learn more about the importance of the local press, the challenges it faces and what’s being done about it.” At that website is also a link by which you can sign up for the free “Voices for a Free Press” newsletter.
[Note: I subscribe to a local paper, a regional paper, and a national/international paper. I subscribe to glean the different perspectives they provide and to do my bit to support the free press and my nation’s democracy.]
What could help? Lots of people could take upon themselves the responsibility to subscribe—print, digital, or both—to their local paper, and they should consider subscribing to a credible national/international news publication. Like having a town government, fire department, police department, school system, and civic organizations, having a free press and a public that reads the news is essential to civil society and to democracy.
Do your bit, contact your local newspaper and subscribe.
When: 7 December 2021, 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (5 p.m. Pacific time)
Third Act is for Gray-Greens. Two current projects are protecting our vote and bugging the banks that support the fossil-fuel industry
Per Third Act’s description: “Third Act is a new way for people over 60 — “experienced Americans” — to bring their unique skills and resources to bear on the most pressing issues of our time. We invite you to join our upcoming launch event to learn how you can be a part of our movement. [the news announcement is at https://thirdact.org/news-updates/2021/10/15/welcome-to-your-third-act/]
“You’ll hear from Third Act Founder Bill McKibben, Lead Advisor Akaya Windwood, and a lineup of visionary elders, experienced organizers, and frontline changemakers as we launch a new way to see your Third Act.”
During this COVID-19 time, it’s good to get outside. Fortunately, we in Kitsap County have lots of outside available.
So much to be thankful for: forests to meander in, trails to bike on, places where we can gaze at the Puget Sound or sit and read, and beaches where we can identify shells, crabs, ducks, and seaweed, or just amble along. Here, it’s easy to get to nature, for nature is just a walk or a short drive away from anywhere in the county.
People and Organizations
Our parks and preserves didn’t happen by accident—and that’s where the thank-you to people and organizations comes in. Delving into the histories of open spaces reveals that many exist because of the work, planning, letter writing, and legislating done by engaged folks. Additionally, these parks and preserves are now maintained (trail clearing, trash pickup, invasive weed removal) by park professionals and volunteers.
Here’s a tiny sampling of the people and organizations conserving Kitsap’s nature:
Gene and Sandy Bullock, Don and Judy Willott, and many others at the Kitsap Audubon Society provide the forum where knowledgeable lecturers teach us—during photo-filled presentations at the society’s monthly meetings (now virtual)—about birds and their habits and habitats.
Kitsap Audubon is about birds, but it’s also about preserving habitat and the environment. Gene and Sandy lead Christmas bird counts where they point out buffleheads, mergansers, wigeons, and kingfishers. Don and Judy have worked for years to bring bike/walk trails to Kitsap and were heavily involved in the creation of the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park. Kitsap Audubon provides scholarships to college students who are pursuing environment-related majors, and it gives kits to classrooms so that children can explore the world of birds. Kitsap Audubon also promotes—via organizational participation and money donations—habitat conservation through groups like Great Peninsula Conservancy.
Led for years by Sandra Staples-Bortner, and now by Nathan Daniel, Great Peninsula Conservancy purchases and oversees habitat, receives donated lands, and arranges conservation easements. In its twenty years, GPC has conserved over 10,000 acres of open space. Being apolitical, GPC provides a place where people of diverse interests enjoy coming together to do good by adding to Kitsap’s nature.
Attending the annual fundraising dinner (virtual in recent COVID years) at Kiana Lodge is to get a positive fix, seeing the cross-section of people there. Over the years, thousands of people—environmentalists, business owners, tribal members, advocates for parks and trails, fish/plant/wildlife experts, volunteers, and politicians—have supported GPC. We’re nature-rich because of it.
Parks and Preserves
Parks and preserves are our wonderful heritage. Have you seen chum scooting upstream at Chico Salmon Park or seals lounging at Manchester State Park? Have you watched swallows flit among trees at twilight as you walk on the Clear Creek Trail? Have you identified shell types at Point No Point or gazed across the Hood Canal at the Olympics from Kitsap Memorial State Park or the Guillemot Cove Preserve? And how about strolling among trees and bushes at Port Gamble Forest, North Kitsap Forest, Illahee Preserve, Newberry Hill, Tahuya, Banner Forest, Coulter Creek, and other parks. Here, it’s easy to do.
We have first-rate nature education. Washington State University–Extension’s powerhouse program has been enthusiastically led by talented women—Peg Tillery, Renee Johnson, Amy Linhart, and Amy Smalley—all ably assisted by marine biologist Jeff Adams of Washington Sea Grant. WSU–Extension sponsors Beach Naturalists, Stream Stewards, Shore Stewards, Salmon Docents, Shore Friendly, and other education/conservation programs.We’re fortunate in Kitsap to also have many individuals who are passionate and educated about nature and who share their knowledge of trees, berries, fish, and ferns.
That’s only a few of the those that conserve our nature and teach us about it; others are Stillwaters, Islandwood, Western Washington University (through its SEA Discovery Center), Olympic College’s Dept. of Environmental Studies, Salish Magazine (an online publication by John Williams of Suquamish), Suquamish and S’Klallam Tribes, many activist groups, and more.
Finally, thank you, local newspaper reporters.
Without reporting, nature can’t be conserved because advocates wouldn’t know of the threats and opportunities affecting it. Reporters do the gumshoe work of interviewing city officials, legislators, science experts, and residents. Reporters seek facts, outline pro and cons of issues, and give the history of a community. Reporters interview experts in marine biology and forest management who tell us details of salmon, orcas, rockfish, maples, Douglas firs, and evergreen huckleberries and how they all fit together. Christopher Dunagan is a gem: he reported for years for the Kitsap Sun about the science and issues of the Puget Sound. His mantle at the Sun was subsequently taken up by Nathan Pilling, Christian Vosler, and Jessie Darland. Thank you, reporters.
We in Kitsap County treasure our nature, which we learn about, conserve, and enjoy. That engagement is paying huge dividends during this COVID-19 time, for we have many places to safely explore—and much for which to be thankful.
(Addendum: Recently, I moved to Jefferson County where I’m finding similar nature-protecting organizations—Jefferson Land Trust, Audubon clubs, the Marine Science Center, Washington State University-Jefferson County Extension, and others—full of people who are caring for nature.)
God created the heavens and the Earth, or more specifically, through his spirit he molded all the planets, stars, and the life they sustain using energy, elements, and physical laws of the universe. He engineered the cosmos through gravity, atomic forces, chemical and genetic relationships, and more. We now know that Earth is 4.5 billion years old, that life evolved, and that humans were part of that sculpting from the metaphorical mud.
More truths about the physical universe are discovered each day, and as each day brings us new knowledge about how the universe works, we learn something more about how God put together and runs his physical creation. God is truth, and the truths we learn about rocks, water, bees, and trees, and the rest of his creation tells us more about how he works.
God is proud of his creation, and he tells us his creation story. Like any good speaker or writer, he knows his audience, so he communicates to each generation in a way they will understand. He did not tell an Abraham-era audience of sheepherders and fishermen the story of creation using light spectrum and molecular genetics terminology—words which would have passed unfathomed over their heads. Instead, he framed the creation story as a parable—a man and woman formed and brought to life out of mud that had been touched by spirit. He talks to us in the twenty-first century differently: same story, but different words.
We understand more details about our physical construction today than did the people of Abraham’s day. We know that raising hands in prayer occurs when blood-nourished muscles using mitochondria powered cells raise the bones, skin, fat, and tendons of our hands up toward heaven. The physical act supports the spiritual act—communing with our Father. We have bodies to live in and to pray with.
In one thousand years, our knowledge of the physical process of creation will be markedly more than it is today, and even more so in a million years (if our species survives that long). What doesn’t change is God ‘s spirit, love, and life behind it all, and that the exploration of God’s essence and of our relationship with him is available to all humans in all eras in whatever the terminology of the time is.
Note: Ellen Bernstein, in her essay “Creation Theology: A Jewish Perspective,” which is in The Green Bible, pages I-51 to I-57, says that “[C]reation theology isn’t creationism, the belief that the world was created by God in seven days. Creation theology is interested in the nature of nature, the nature of humanity, and the interplay of the two.”
Wonders of Wildlife wowed me with its fish, mammals, and birds—all entertainingly displayed, either alive or stuffed. As important as the many hunting and fishing stories is the conservation history and ethos conveyed throughout the campus. Founder Johnny Morris best summarizes the spirit of Wonders of Wildlife when he says, “Thanks for sharing the journey in conservation. Happy huntin’ and fishin’!”
Wonders of Wildlife comprises two sections: the 1.5-million-gallon Aquarium Adventure and the Wildlife Museum, a day-long exploration that a brochure informs us was “Voted American’s Best Aquarium and Best New Attraction by USA Today readers.” Children ogle at live fish, frogs, sharks, turtles, alligators, beavers, birds, penguins; adults also learn about fishermen, hunters, Native Americans, and conservationists. Adjacent to the aquarium and the museum is the first-in-the-nation Bass Pro Shop. All of them were founded by Johnny Morris, noted fisherman and conservationist. The complex will soon add a “Nature’s Best Photography” section.
I’m a conservationist who hunted and fished lots with my family in Colorado during my childhood and teenage years, though U.S. Navy work and conservation advocacy have occupied my older years. One of my brothers remains the big hunter in our family. (Sidenote: one evening, as I was reversing the family’s Volkswagen Rabbit out of our driveway to pick up my prom date, I smelled something, so I stopped the car, opened the back hatch and discovered a dead deer there—my hunter brother having been the most recent user of the car.) During one of our walk and talks, my brother reminded me that much of America’s conservation of wildlife and habitat has been done, and is funded by, hunters and fishermen through hunting tags, fishing licenses and through organizations like Ducks Unlimited. The Wonders of Wildlife experience in Springfield, Missouri tells that story—the importance of conservation in America (such as creation of wildlife refuges, national forests and parks, and legislation such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) and the roles that hunters and fishermen—men and women who frequent nature—have played in the conservation of America’s wild species.
Conservation-related quotes are posted throughout the museum:
“There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.” ⸺ Theodore Roosevelt
“A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers but borrowed from his children.” ⸺ John James Audubon
“In the end . . . we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught.” ⸺ Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist
“Conservation is wise use of the earth and its resources for the lasting good of man.” ⸺ Gifford Pinchot
“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife, are in fact plans to protect man.” ⸺ Stewart Udall
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ⸺ Albert Einstein
“A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying our air and giving fresh strength to our people.” ⸺ Franklin D. Roosevelt
“We must leave them a glimpse of the land as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.” ⸺ Lyndon B. Johnson
“The parks are the Nation’s pleasure grounds . . . and the Nation’s restoring places . . . The national parks are an American idea; it is one thing we have that has not been imported.” ⸺ Franklin D. Roosevelt
“The idea of preserving in a national grouping such spots of scenic beauty and historic memory originated here in this country . . . In Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, other countries have followed our pioneering example and set aside their most magnificent scenic areas as national treasures for the enjoyment of present and future generations.” ⸺ Lyndon B. Johnson
One poster states, “Only across the great lands and waterways of North America does the mission of conservation belong to the people, to the sportsmen and women who both enjoy and protect the great outdoors. Here, we believe that our fish and wildlife belong to all. And so we take it uniquely upon ourselves as conservationists to proudly and diligently safeguard all this land for all generations to come. For sportsmen and women, conservation is more than just a word—it’s a way of life. “Did you know there is a 10% excise tax on firearms, bows, ammunition, and sports fishing tackle? This excise tax, along with license fees and more, helps to generate more than $1.5 billion for wildlife research, management, and habitat improvement. “Since 1937, they [sportsmen and women] have raised more than $57 billion for public conservation. 80% of that funding for fish and wildlife agencies comes from sportsmen and women. Hunters and anglers also donate more than $400 million every year through conservation and sporting organizations.”
The museum relates significant periods and people in American conservation. For example, I learned that the Boone and Crockett Club (founded by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell) launched a National Display of Heads and Horns in 1906 (later moved to the Bronx Zoo) which first brought to people’s eyes the wonders that were very close to being forever lost.
That display, which is now in the Wonders of Wildlife Museum, helped mobilize people to stop the extinction of big game animals in North America, such as buffalo, elk, pronghorn antelope, Rocky Mountain sheep, black bears, and other species.
“We can no longer rule over the beasts of the earth and seek ‘dominion’ over our environment. We human beings are not privileged beings who are above or separate from the world. We are part of the landscape and everything in it. With this awareness come humility and the gift of harmony.” ⸺ Black Elk
“What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.” ⸺ Chief Seattle
While walking to heads and horns, I passed through a corridor of the mammals of North America, all in one place, refreshing for me in one place what I’d seen in parts in various national parks. “Ah, that’s a weasel, as compared to that critter there which is an otter.”
Big-game hunter Theodore Roosevelt became known as the conservation president because of the numerous laws and legislative actions he took to protect wildlife and natural resources. His pictures and quotes grace multiple walls in the museum.
Pictures of Lewis and Clark and clothes and artifacts of Native Americans fill another hallway.
The walls tell stories of, and quotes by, George Bird Grinnell (editor-in-chief of Forest & Stream magazine, co-founder of the Boone and Crockett Club, founder of what later became known as the Audubon Society), James John Audubon, John Muir (founder of the Sierra Club), Gifford Pinchot (first Chief of the U.S. Forest Service), Aldo Leopold (a renowned scientist and exceptional teacher who founded wildlife ecology; author of A Sand County Almanac), Charles Sheldon (campaigned for the creation of Denali National Park; he also recommended the present borders of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park), J.N Darling (political cartoonist who worked with Aldo Leopold to restore waterfowl habitat and who created the federal duck stamp to fund conservation efforts. Darling also served President Franklin D. Roosevelt as the head of what is the now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service).
The creatures that almost weren’t that are.
In truth, we depend on all the creatures in this world. For in order to survive, we humans must consume plants and animals—life must be taken so that we may live. It is only with this awareness that we learn humility and find balance. Our lives need to be in a circle, not in a square, nor a straight line. ⸺ Black Elk
“Whenever in the course of the daily hunt, the red hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful and sublime—a black thunder-cloud with the rainbow’s glowing arch above the mountain; a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge; a vast prairie tinged with the blood-red of sunset—he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship. He sees no need for setting apart one day in seven as a holy day, since to him all days are God’s.” ⸺ Ohiyesa, Wahpeton, Dakota
Morris conveys his conservation philosophy throughout the campus, and he stresses that the appreciation of wild things comes from being outdoors. As my Dad used to say to my siblings and I about how best to raise our children: “You gotta take em’ fishing.” Morris clearly conveys his love of fishing in his dedication plaque to his mom and dad who “always made time to take me fishing” and in displays like the National Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame (Ernest Hemingway’s fishing prowess is displayed there), and the section on fishing presidents, with its pictures of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Harry Truman, and Franklin D. Roosevelt (with Winston Churchill), Calvin Coolidge, and Theodore Roosevelt. Johnny Morris is in the pictures too, fishing with many of the modern-day presidents.
One ticket gets you into the aquarium and the wildlife galleries (for prices, please go to https://wondersofwildlife.org/), and of course strolling through the nation’s first Bass Pro store costs nothing–at least until you see something in that huge hunting and fishing store that you just have to buy.
A day at the Wonders of Wildlife Aquarium & Museum and the Bass Pro Shop is a fish/animal/bird/history-filled experience for children, adults, hunters, fishermen, and conservationists.
“Inslee met with regional leaders from around the world, as well as top federal officials like EPA Administrator Michael Regan and U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk, highlighting the worsening impacts of climate change in the Pacific Northwest as a call for urgent action on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.” “Among the commitments are pledges to require 100% of new car sales be zero-emission vehicles beginning 2035 and 100% zero-carbon energy by 2045, as well as ensuring 100% net zero operating emissions from new building construction by 2030. Other commitments include conserving at least 30% of land and coastal waters by 2030 and ensuring that at least 40% of expenditures benefit overburdened communities and vulnerable populations.” “Inslee also joined other leaders from the Pacific Coast Collaborative for the launch of the Low Carbon Construction Task Force.” VIDEO: Learn more about PCC’s work and hear from state and regional leaders. Also noted in this press update: “Inslee announced an executive order to fully electrify Washington state’s public fleets and transition to a 100% zero-emission light duty fleet by 2035, as well as 100% zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty state fleets by 2040.”
⸺ source: The following is pasted from a 7 Nov. 2021 Gov. Inslee Press Update
GLASGOW, Scotland – A coalition of 68 state, regional and city governments led by Gov. Jay Inslee today affirmed their urgent commitment to addressing the climate crisis by signing a range of emissions-slashing actions ahead of 2030. This is part of a global call from local and regional governments in recognition of the increased impacts of climate change and their critical role in addressing it.
At a press event with other leaders today, Inslee announced an executive order to fully electrify Washington state’s public fleets and transition to a 100% zero-emission light duty fleet by 2035, as well as 100% zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty state fleets by 2040.
“Together with the rest of the leaders here and those everywhere else today who are committed to this fight, we will lead the charge on decarbonizing the transportation sector,” Inslee said.
Convening at COP26, governments from the Under2 Coalition, U.S. Climate Alliance and C40 acknowledged the need to move beyond lofty goals and focus on immediate actions to reach them in order to keep global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. This means taking measures across all sectors to drive down emissions and protect biodiversity.
The range of actions announced today covers:
Inter-governmental cooperation and planning
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to effectively mitigate climate change. The actions we take in the next five years will determine the fate of our species. I’m proud to stand with this global coalition of governors and mayors to go beyond pledges,” Inslee said. “Together, we are charting a path to make tangible, meaningful progress to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and get to net-zero by 2050. Now is the time for leaders to buckle down and get it done.”
Among today’s commitments are pledges to require 100% of new car sales be zero-emission vehicles beginning 2035 and 100% zero-carbon energy by 2045, as well as ensuring 100% net zero operating emissions from new building construction from 2030. Other commitments include conserving at least 30% of land and coastal waters by 2030 and ensuring that at least 40% of expenditures benefit overburdened communities and vulnerable populations.
A recent United Nations report showed that with current emissions projections, the world should be prepared for a temperature rise of about 2.7°C by the end of the century. The consequences of this rise would be catastrophic, and again underline the need for short-term – as well as long term – commitments. Although today’s pledges are an important step, it is clear that more needs to be done at all levels to ensure genuine progress on climate change.
The present presages an ungodly future I drafted this blog entry July 2021 (and have added to it since) while I was in Oregon feeling the week’s ungodly heat and seeing forest-fire smoke brown the sky. Knowing the IPCC predictions—a hotter world filled with forced migrations, extinctions, droughts, floods, big storms, big forest fires, ocean level rise and ocean acidification, and that each year of climate inaction will worsen the damage—could get me down, except that I counter such feelings by acting for climate and habitat. Someday I’ll stand before God, and he’ll ask what I did during my Earth sojourn. God gives us many ways to serve, and as George Washington Carver—a great man of service—once said, “Someday I will have to leave this world. And when that day comes, I want to feel that I have an excuse for having lived in it. I want to feel that my life has been of some service to my fellow man.” Me—I will have acted for climate and for the preservation of species, which is also for my fellow man.