Letters

Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

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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