Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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.

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.”

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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