Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Local writers celebrate Michigan
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Local writers celebrate Michigan

Glen Young - July 21st, 2008
Summertime is prime time to enjoy Michigan’s great outdoors. And whether on land or on water, the number of folks who take to Michigan’s wilds explodes in the summer months. John Knott of the University of Michigan has put together a successful group of writers and photographers to explore this call of Michigan’s wild in the new book “Michigan: Our Water, Our Land, Our Heritage.”
Published by the University of Michigan Press, in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy, the book is built around a solid collection of essays about Michigan’s many treasures. Several notable local authors are represented, including Stephanie Mills, Anne-Marie Oomen, Jerry Dennis, and Jack Driscoll.
Editor Knott, whose previous credits include “Imagining Wild America,” says his goal for the new book is to help the Nature Conservancy publicize its goals and achievements, and also ‘to give people a better sense of Michigan as a place. My sense is that we don’t do enough to publicize Michigan’s rich natural heritage or its amazing biological and scenic diversity.’
The essays and photographs encompass Nature Conservancy protected areas from all over the state, ranging from the Erie Marsh in the southeast corner of the Lower Peninsula, to the Two Hearted River in the central Upper Peninsula. The assembled writers and photographers capture both the beauty and the fragility of nearly the entire state in between.

WAKE UP CALL
Knott says the idea for the collection came from Helen Taylor, director of the Nature Conservancy in Michigan. Taylor isn’t sure if it was her idea or Knott’s, but regardless, she hopes the book “will be a call to action or an awakening” for readers. She says conservation is no longer “as simple as setting places aside.” Conservation requires constant attention to the changing needs of the environment.
Augmented with commentary from other notable Michiganians, including former governors William Milliken, James Blanchard, John Engler, and Congressman John Dingell, and photography that is at once quintessentially Michigan and emotive, the book serves to showcase the emotional and historical significance of the state’s natural features. Focusing on interdependence of the land and the water of the Great Lakes state, the writing informs, inspires, enrages, and hopefully engages, says Taylor. “These are landscapes that are challenged,” she says.
“The book creates an aesthetic overview, a series of literary and pictorial essays celebrating, through individual voices of Michigan writers, Michigan’s natural beauty and the value of our land and water,” says Anne-Marie Oomen, director of creative writing at the Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Oomen writes about the Shiawassee River drainage in her piece “Ditches and Rivers.” She writes that she “wanted to write something pretty” about the area, and ends up doing so, though in an unconventional way. She is aided in her explorations by Craig, a Nature Conservancy guide, who shows her how the drainage is, “shaped like our hemisphere,” and how “the two continents of the watershed include hundreds of square miles.”
What she comes to understand is that the health and care of ditches impacts the health and well being of rivers. She concludes by explaining: “Before we can celebrate the river, we must understand the connection to everything else, including ditches.”

SUBTLE SHADINGS
This intertwining is a main theme of the book’s nine essays and interlocking commentary. The land cannot sustain without healthy watershed, and healthy watersheds, in turn, depend upon wise land use practices.
Driscoll, who also teaches at Interlochen and has used Michigan landscapes in his critically acclaimed novels, writes about a trip to the Two Hearted River in the Upper Peninsula’s Hemingway country, explaining how the area is “by and large absent of topography,” and is nonetheless punctuated by “the subtle shadings of open bogs and beaver dams and town names such as Laughing Whitefish.” These small pleasures are enough to sustain the soul, Driscoll says, and hopefully will be enough incentive to protect the area from further human degradation.
Dennis, author of “The Living Great Lakes” and many other works of both fiction and non fiction, contributes a piece on Pointe Betsie, explaining how such places restore and recalibrate, because, “Even when we are determined to make ourselves heard we have little voice in the matter. The wind outshouts us every time.”
The Nature Conservancy’s Taylor says this idea might be the central theme of the book. “We used to think the future of nature was in human hands, but we’re quickly learning the opposite is true.”


 
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