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Home · Articles · News · Letters · Letters 10/18/07
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Letters 10/18/07

- October 18th, 2007
Go, Bioneers!
The sixth Great Lakes Bioneers Conference, coming up this weekend, Oct. 19 - 21, covers an unusual variety of topics and a diversity of activities. Highlights of this year’s conference include plenary speakers, broadcast via satellite live from the main conference in California who will be covering topics such as the latest advances in green chemistry: traditional knowledge from an Alaskan indigenous leader and how it can heal and transform humanity: Eve Ensler speaking about women’s issues; healing spiritually and environmentally from the effects of war; and much more!
Our local programming includes instructions on how to construct a green roof, building social justice for Michigan’s immigrant/migrant population, how the local food movement is reaching out to folks across the economic spectrum; Native American efforts to inventory and monitor the Emerald Ash Borer; and more.
Our keynote speaker for Sunday morning is especially interesting. She is Laurie White, a filmmaker from Ann Arbor, who has produced a film called Refusing to be Enemies which will be shown in the Milliken Auditorium following her address. The film follows a group of women that call themselves Zeitouna; 6 Arab and 6 Jewish, who undertake a dialogue process over a four year period, culminating in a trip to the Middle East together. Laurie has worked with Michael Moore in the past; she was the co-producer of Roger and Me. To see more about the film, and Laurie’s work, you could check out her web site at : www.zeitounamovie.org
The Bioneers movement is all-encompassing, embracing the philosophy that it’s all connected: the issues and problems as well as the solutions. This is a terrific opportunity to build networks to continue the fight against despair with a focus on practical solutions. The food’s great too! For more information, go to

Sally Van Vleck• TC

Keep On Bikin‘
Thanks to Robert Downes for the thoughts on the Sustrans 5,000-mile National Cycle Network of trails that criss-cross England, Wales, and Scotland. Traveling by bike on safe, designated routes between towns, visiting local attractions, staying at B & Bs or camping, and eating at local restaurants, sounds like a great way to vacation and recreate.
I second the idea that we have the building blocks in place in Northern Michigan to do a similar project. A project like the one you described takes years to complete and a regional cycling organization dedicated to involving all levels of government, chambers of commerce, recreation & tourism groups, and private companies & individuals.
Closer to home, the Route Verte, in Quebec Canada, is another example of such a project. It had its official opening this past August. Fifteen years in its development, it now has 2500 miles of trails, with 40 percent off-road and 60 percent on paved highway shoulders and little-used rural roads. The project eventually engaged 1000 partners and cost many millions of Dollars. In 2006, before completion of the project, it was calculated that Route Verte cyclists spent USD125 million, generated USD35 million in government revenues, and supported nearly 3000 jobs.
People already come from all over the country just to bicycle our roads and trails. I have even met riders who day trip from the Detroit area, ride their bikes all day till the sun sets, and then drive home the same night. If we build the Gold Coast Trail like you proposed, then the number of visitors and locals using such a bicycling network would make profound changes to our region. Thanks again, Bob, for your good thoughts.

John McClorey • Boyne City

Caviar Or Beans?
Pushed by Governor Granholm, and her fellow Democrats, Michigan’s legislators appear likely to give Michigan Businesses and Taxpayers a tax hike. (I feel that) this is so wrong for so many reasons. Hiking Michigan’s taxes is tantamount to kicking Michigan’s taxpayers when they are down.
While our state leaders have grown a budget of Champagne and Caviar, too many of Michigan taxpayers are struggling with budgets of Hot Dogs and Beans. By passing a tax hike, the Democrats are sending a message to Business: “We will raise your taxes rather than stop squandering your money”. They are sending a message to Michigan’s retirees: “Pack your things, take your money and move out of this state because you aren’t important to us.” To Michigan’s workers and unemployed they are sending a message: “Michigan’s special interests are more important to us than you and your families”.
In the last 20 years, the biggest growth industry in Michigan has been the size of our state government. Part of that growth has been Michigan’s prison system. Because they are funded by taxpayers, prison systems are a necessary evil that should be kept as small and efficient as possible.
How many thousands of non-violent inmates are we warehousing beyond their first parole date? How much overtime is being sucked up by State Police to enforce Michigan’s repressive and Orwellian seat belt law? How many millions of dollars has Mdot or MSP squandered on video traffic surveillance cameras like those that can be seen peppering intersections of Creyts and Canal roads on Lansing’s west side? Our leaders can make some intelligent spending cuts and improve Michigan’s future, or they can continue to sip champagne as our economy worsens.
Any time a bureaucrat or politicians make the statements, ”it’s for the public good,“ or that “we’ve cut spending to the bone!” I am reminded of the old joke: “How can you tell when your public official is lying to you? Their lips are moving!”

Ken Proctor • Charlotte
Helping in Palestine
With the news of Iraq in the news constantly, it is easy to let the problem of Zionism versus Palestinians fade to the background. While this war is fought with words and weapons, the ordinary Palestinian citizen suffers. There are those who are not waiting for the U.S. government to put strings on the subsidies for the Israeli government. The Society of Friends has stepped in and said enough, let peace begin with us.
Quakers have sent and will continue to send volunteers to an area of the world where war is an everyday part of life. These peacemakers, despite being targeted along with innocent citizens, have made a deep, personal commitment. They are not waiting for powerful men on two sides to realize that enough is enough.
In 2006, volunteers went to Palestine to assist in the olive harvest which provided for families attempting to maintain long standing, generational farms. In 2007, volunteers will again go to Palestine knowing that they place their own lives in jeopardy. Those of us sitting comfortably at home can assist these volunteers. With a donation, we make the statement that anything but peace is not an option. All people must be treated equitably.
If you are willing to be of assistance to a peacemaker, please consider a donation of any amount to Grand Rapids Friends Meeting, PO Box 1274, Grand Rapids MI 49501-1274. Urgent funding is needed.
Barbara Young • Bear Lake

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