Tag Archives: Nature

Fun/ny Interview With Me on Vegan Hedonists

RE: my new self-published novel Orange Rain:

http://veganhedonists.com/blogs/interview-vegan-author-jan-smitowicz

januscript

Read about/purchase my novel here:

http://www.amazon.com/Orange-Rain-ebook/dp/B00DEJT83Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1373314364&sr=8-1&keywords=smitowicz

Support for Sabotage

Posted on the WP blog of Dr. Steve Best; written by my ally in support for strategic sabotage, Usnea–someone with whom I did relief work at Common Ground in New Orleans’s 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina in December of 2005.

Dr. Steve Best

By Usnea, Earth First! Journal,  2011

I state without fear—but with the hope of rallying our collective courage—that I support radical actions. I support tools like industrial sabotage, monkey wrenching machinery and strategic arson. The Earth’s situation is dire. If other methods are not enough, we must not allow concerns about property rights to stop us from protecting the land, sea, and air. Today, more than ever, the Earth needs our effective action using all the methods of resistance at our disposal. Radical actions and radical movements grow out of supportive cultures. Let us once again build a strong supportive base for them.

Don’t get me wrong. During the Green Scare, in which dozens of activists  were incarcerated, our movement got seriously screwed with, and we   have had some extremely hard times because of the outstanding repression   we have faced for the last six years. I want to remember…

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The Power of Place: A Discussion with Derrick Jensen

Interview conducted in early 2010; I wanted to repost this for all my new friends/followers because I think it’s good and very important.  I know his work and his talks inside and out, so I tried to ask him many questions that he doesn’t normally get.  For further information about him or his work, see the links on the right side of my home page (“Actions Speak Louder than Words” and a link to his website/discussion forums)

JAN SMITH: The theme of this interview is a sort of tagline for my book:  rewild the west, and all the rest.

DERRICK JENSEN: I think it’s a hugely important work.  About twenty years ago I decided to go up to the Northwest Territories.  There was a road there that was really just unbroken forest for 300 miles, and I’ve never seen anything like it before.  It was really beautiful, but it also broke my heart, because of course that used to be the whole continent.  We can say the same thing about North Africa, we can say the same thing about Europe, we can say that same thing about the near East, we can say the same thing about Iraq, and so on.  There’s a phrase for this, something baseline, about how every generation remembers what it was like when we were kids, and how much worse it’s gotten, but we don’t remember how it was when our parents were kids.  There was a study that came out a year or two ago that migratory songbird populations have collapsed by 80% in the last 40 years in a lot of populations; bobwhites, whippoorwills, and so on, and that’s horrifying and terrifying; until I realized that 40 years ago was 1968, which is 10 years after Silent Spring.  Which means that they’ve already gone down 80% in 40 years, after they’d already gone down by 80%, and in the 1920s they were down 80%.  You know, we hear about it over and over no matter where; the passenger pigeons darkening the skies for days at a time—but we’ve also heard that was how Florida was, and Louisiana.  I tell this in my talks:  does anybody know why there are no penguins in the northern hemisphere?  There were—they were called great auks, but who remembers the great auks?

I think this project is incredibly important in terms of helping us to remember that we are fighting over scraps, and we shouldn’t be.  We should be living in intact natural communities.

JS: Right.  And the fight we have to fight shouldn’t be about fighting over scraps.  We shouldn’t say, “Don’t clearcut this 50 acres,” but then say nothing about the clearcutting of 2000 acres tomorrow.  We should say, “We want it all.”  And it’s really not about us, we’re not selfish, saying “GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!”  It’s that we humans—all humans—need it all, the natural world has its own rights, and the nonhumans need it all.  It’s about preserving life.

Now I want to get into this idea I’m calling the power of place.  You grew up in Colorado, right, and then moved to northern Idaho?

DJ: No, I moved from Colorado to Nevada for a couple years, then to northern Idaho, then eastern Washington, then here [Crescent City, California].

JS: Okay, so I kind of want to get a sense of why you moved to the different geographical areas in your life, and why.  There’s a lot of variation there.  Eastern Washington is high desert, which is very very different from the coastal redwood rainforest of Crescent City.  So what did you like and dislike about each area, and why did you move away to the new places?

DJ: Colorado because I finished college, and also because my father lived in Colorado, and I didn’t want to face the possibility of meeting him every time I went to the grocery store.  Also there’s way too many people.  I went to northeast Nevada because my sister lived there and I was starting up a beekeeping business, and that was a place I could find some pastures on which to put the bees.  But I got sick.  I moved to north Idaho because it was one of the prettiest places I’d ever seen.  Moved to eastern Washington because I went back to school.  And then moved to northern California because there were too many people in Spokane.  And I’d committed to living around my mom.  She wanted to live where there weren’t winters, and I wanted to live where there weren’t a lot of people.  This is what we came up with.  After I moved to Idaho I found that I’m very much a forest person; I never liked the desert, and I didn’t really like Colorado.  I have some fondness for it, but I’m very much a forest person.  I feel most comfortable there.

JS: So that place holds the most power over you.

DJ: Yeah.  And I’ve heard a lot about how we resonate with the landbases where we grew up, but in my case that wasn’t true.  Where I lived in Colorado was plains; plains are okay, but as soon as I moved to Idaho and then here I immediately felt at home.  I don’t know why.  I know when I go elsewhere it’s the same.  Like when I go to the deep south, to forests there, it’s very moving for me too.  Really forests anywhere.  I go to Los Angeles or San Diego and don’t feel at home.  I know people who absolutely love the desert and feel tremendous respect and awe and feel very much at home in the desert.  I can respect that, it’s just not me personally.

JS: So you’d feel out of place even when you went to natural areas in Spokane?

DJ: You know, Spokane is right near the edge of forests, and there were some forests right near where I lived.  It wasn’t thick forests like here; you can’t walk through these [redwood] forests, you have to go on a game trail.  In Spokane it was very open forests.

JS: After doing just a small bit of off-trail bushwacking in the forests of northern California last week, I posited that all this dark matter scientists say make up the majority of the mass in the universe might just be found somewhere in the redwood forests, they’re so dense.

DJ: Oh that’s funny.

JS: Do you think you’ll stay in northern California the rest of your life?  Do you think you’re at home and you’ll be happy staying there?

DJ: Well I’ll certainly stay the rest of my mom’s life.  I’m planning on staying here forever.  But you know, with global warming, I live at 17 feet elevation, so it could be underwater.  So I might be staying here for the rest of this forest’s life.  But we need to stop it before then.  I mean, who knows—I have no desire to leave.  But politically things are very bad and just getting worse in this country.  But I can’t see myself leaving, no, I’ll be here.

JS: You talked in one of your recent books about eco-tourism and jet-setting all over the place; you know, this week we can go to the Everglades, next week Glacier National Park, then the redwoods.  But you talked about vacationing at home in your bioregion; sticking to it, learning the intricacies of that place.  Why do you think it’s important to find a place you love and stick with it?

DJ: Well for a couple of reasons.  Actually I think where I liked writing about it best was in the zoo book [Thought to Exist in the Wild:  Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos].  Because one of the things I say is that people go to these exotic places, or in this case, people go to zoos—one of the excuses for the existence of zoos is that we need to have a connection to wild animals.

JS: Such a joke.

DJ: And that’s true, but it’s not really a connection to wild animals if they’re in cages.  There’s another lesson to be learned there; if you want to see bears, you should live such that bears want to see you.  I think it’s a very very bad lesson to be teaching children especially:  that you can destroy a landbase but still see the bears on whose land you’re living.  So what I say there is that instead of going to a zoo, you should go outside and get to know the creatures who live in your home—even if you live in the city!  In Thought to Exist.., I thought, okay, I’m gonna go to the worst place in this entire area, the most life-unforgiving place and see what I see.  And I went to the McDonald’s parking lot.  There were some little landscaped bushes right next to highway, between Highway 101 and McDonald’s.  I sat there for about 30 seconds and I started seeing spiders, I saw sparrows hopping along the ground, I saw seagulls, I saw some bumblebees even though it’s a little cold.  Those beings are just as important and we need to get to know them.  As we’re doing this interview, it’s a little cold here and I’m starting a fire.  I’m putting some old scrap paper into the woodstove.  Just a moment ago, and I felt really bad about this because I didn’t see it before I put it in.  But there was this little tiny tiny spider that was living on this used scratch paper pile, and I accidentally burned it when I put it in the woodstove.  And my point is that even something as absolutely sterile as a box full of used scratch paper still has living beings in it.  This is not to say that, well, since they can live there, then that makes it okay that forests are destroyed.  I’m not saying that at all.  What I’m saying is that there’s life right next to us and we should get to know that.

There are a lot of problems I have with the whole eco-tourism thing; one is that it’s just the same sort of pornographic mindset that’s killing the planet; that it’s there for us to consume, whether we consume it through the timber industry or whether we consume it through our eyes.

JS: Loving it to death.

DJ: Well, it’s more like…I remember Linda Hogan years ago wrote about nature writers who go to Yucatan Peninsula and they end up writing about themselves.  You know, what do you know about the place?  Years ago, when I was in my twenties, I was at one point driving all over the place and I think in half a year I slept in 130 different places.  Most of the time just throwing my backpack down by the side of the road.  And I realized pretty quickly that for all I was driving around, I may as well just be sitting inside a small theater with different scenes projected onto the windshield.  Because I wasn’t getting to know any place at all.  Absolutely no knowledge obtained.  All you’d have to do is turn the car into a little theater and blow in some different scents—and it doesn’t really matter, you’re still you.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that years ago I interviewed Vine Deloria, and one of the things he talked about is how all his students at the University of Colorado, they’d go hiking over a weekend, and they thought they were connecting with nature.  But what he would say is they’re not, all they’re having is an aesthetic experience.  In order to really get to know a place, you have to live there for a really long time to start recognizing the patterns.  I’ve lived here for 10 years and I don’t know the patterns.  Recently there was a very bad year for banana slugs—they’re everywhere here—and it was a really bad year for them.  Was that a strange thing or was that a pattern?  And in this case they came back the next year.  I just noticed this last night—this year is a very good year for mushrooms.  Which is kind of odd because it’s been very dry until a couple days ago.  It also hasn’t been very cold; November is usually the coldest month here:  what does that mean?  I mean it takes a long time to start to see the patterns of who comes when.  And that’s true with human relationships too.  You can have this really amazing weekend affair that’s really passionate, and that’s one thing.  That’s also not the same as getting to know someone over a long time, it takes a long time just to know humans’ patterns.  Or to get to know a dog’s patterns, a dog’s preferences.  I live with this dog 24 hours a day and it still takes a long time for us to get to know each other.  How much more so when you have the additional complexity of all these different beings who are all just as sentient and alive as we are?  I mean the trees have just as much preferences as we do, and just as much of a subjective existence.  And to get to know them takes a long long time.  And of course that’s a good thing, that’s a fine thing.  It takes generations to really get to know a place.  I read somewhere about how some indigenous peoples, I don’t remember who, knew that martens make a major migration every six human generations or something.  How do you know that unless you’ve lived there long enough for that to have happened three or four times.  Once you’ve lived there for 18 human generations, then you might know that.

I just got a note a couple days ago; people always ask me if I will edit their work or if they can edit mine.  I always say no because I have to know someone really well before I feel comfortable with that.  If I were to edit a book of yours, what I would have to do is figure out what you want to say, and how you want to say it, and then help you to say it better.  And it takes a long time to get to know someone well enough to know what they want to say.  And to enter into those relationships.  It’s even more so if we don’t both speak English, or don’t both even speak human.  It takes a really long time to get to know another well enough to know what is in the others’ best interest.  I mean some things are pretty obvious—it’s not in a forest’s best interest to be clearcut, we can know that.  But what does a forest really want?

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The rest of this (extended) discussion can be found under both the BEST OF THE WEST header and the OTHER WRITINGS header above.  Thanks!

HERE  is a link to my review of Jensen’s book Lives Less Valuable.

HERE is a link to my review of his graphic novel As the World Burns:  50 Simple Things You Can Do To Stay in Denial

Travel Theme: RED

Red–passion, blood, iron oxide, a lack of chlorophyll in the case of the Snow Plant, and this week’s travel theme from Ailsa’s Where’s My Backpack? blog.

Death Valley.

The magnificent ocotillo plant, this individual flowering in Joshua Tree National Park.

Stunning geology and iron oxide and sedimentary stratification in Red Rock Canyon State Park, in the northern Mojave Desert of California.

Snow Plant in Yosemite National Park; they apparently “supplement [their] nutrient intake by at least partially parasitizing the roots of pine trees by means of a shared mycorrhizal fungus.” (Info found HERE)

Seqoiadendron Giganteum individual in Sequoia National Park, with me for frame of reference. The most voluminous trees in the world.

FROM ONE: Artist Lisa Korpos

This is the first installment of a new series I’m starting, called From One:  Artist Profiles of people doing counter-cultural work, using their creative gifts–whether that be photography, drawing, painting, writing, tattooing, et. al.–to raise awareness of important social justice issues, especially ecology and the unsustainability of the dominant culture.

I first became aware of Lisa Korpos’s work at the house of my good friends Luke and Terra, whom I met in New Orleans doing post-Katrina relief work; strangely, Luke was the first person I talked to when I arrived in December of 2005 in New Orleans, and it turned out he also came from Orange County in southern California!  Not only that, we both returned independently at the same time in March of 2006!  Since then we’ve developed a profound friendship.  Anyway, there was this amazing piece of artwork hanging on their wall about deforestation called Memories of an Old Oak Tree:

This was one of the most profound pieces of art I’d ever seen; deforestation is the environmental issue that hits me hardest, as I connect with forests  probably more than any other ecosystem (read Derrick Jensen and George Draffan’s seminal Strangely Like War:  The Global Assault on Forests).  I asked Terra about it, and she told me how it was created from all recycled/reclaimed materials by her friend Lisa Korpos.  About this piece, Lisa says:

It’s meant to really put a humanizing touch on the whole problem of deforestation.  I think that oftentimes, people write off environmental problems as something sort of distant–they feel detached from them.  So I wanted to get everyone really, personally engaged by allowing them to see from the perspective of a tree, as if it were a cognizant, sentient being.  The illustrated panels are each supposed to be a foggy memory of this old oak:  From the misty landscape of the tree’s home, to the scene of the cruel logger lunging at it with a chainsaw, to the scene of the paper mill, and so forth–it all tells the tree’s story. Even the base of the artwork itself gradually shifts from branches & leaves to processed wood planks, symbolizing the tree’s transformation.  At the very bottom of the piece, on a piece of plywood, it says, poignantly, “I miss being a tree.”  It’s a final reminder to drive home the point that this was once a living organism; that we shouldn’t be so quick to forget the origins of so many things we use.

Then Terra (who has a wonderful blog, Preserving Terra, about canning and preserving fruits and vegetables–a skill whose value, especially with the impending ecological collapse, cannot possibly be over-estimated) informed me that Lisa is also a tattoo artist.  Then Terra showed me some of Lisa’s tattoo work–on her back!

Note: This tattoo is *NOT* finished–all the flowers will be colored in when it’s done, but this gives you an idea of the incredible tats Lisa produces!

Luke and Terra knew that I’ve long wanted a tattoo(s), but that I’d just been released from prison, so had no money.  They contacted Lisa and funded my getting one as a sort of Get-Out-of-Prison-Free present, and three days later, the day before I left for home in northern California, it was done!  You can see pictures of my Pink Floyd “Shine On, You Crazy Diamond” tattoo, and its profound meaning to me, partly in connection to my brother David (who killed himself at my age, 27), on my post, “Tattoos and Suicide.”  One of the great things about Lisa is that she doesn’t just talk the talk (or….paint the paint? Heh.)  She is vegan, and uses vegan tattoo ink–those are just two of the things she does to promote a better world, in addition to using her art to inspire and awaken  =)

This next piece is called “PROGRESS?”  It was done on a reclaimed brown paper bag, as part of her Brown Paper Bag HeART prismacolor series:

“This one,” Lisa writes, “is about how wildlife is forced to adapt to destruction of [their] habitat and the introduction of human contaminants into environments that were once pristine. It’s all symbolized by the hermit crab abandoning [his or her] shell to live in a rusty can of [his or her] own, long-dead shrimp brethren.”

Beautiful, touching, and heartbreaking, all at once.

Canary’s Out of the Coal Mine, pastels on recycled cardboard.

“The meaning in this one is pretty self-evident. Kind of a play on the old canary-in-the-coal-mine adage.”  This one is my favorite of her ecological-themed artwork, aside from the tree sculpture.

I also wanted to hear Lisa’s take on a couple important questions; part of an artist’s job amidst this culture of occupation and death is to use it to further social justice issues.

JAN:  Was there a defining moment for you where you thought, “This culture is FUCKED.  I have to do something with my artwork to challenge the dominant culture’s myths.”  Was there a watershed moment that made you decide to do what you do?

LISA:  I don’t think there was any definitive, watershed moment, no. My sensitization to our civilization’s problems was a gradual process.  What concerns me in this world is all the hurt, injustice and oppression happening, and my art is just a natural extension of that concern. I have many, many moments when I think, “this culture is FUCKED,” but it’s a repetitive cycle of anger, and that  cynicism doesn’t lead to creativity. It’s on the upswing, when I’m feeling optimistic, that I can channel all that internalized outrage into something constructive instead.

JAN:  Some people would say art–any kind of art, including writing–is a passive act of resistance to the murder of billions of animals and destruction of the biosphere.  Symbolic resistance.  A passive act.  What would you say to that?

LISA:  All forms of activism are all equally vital, passive or not.  We need to adopt an open-minded, multifaceted approach when it comes to confronting our planet’s ecological & socio-economic problems!  Perhaps painting a picture or writing a book isn’t as bad-ass as throwing molotov cocktails at some corporate building.  So be it.  Creative endeavors (particularly ones interwoven with social commentary) should not be underestimated in their power to change minds.  Isn’t this what we need, at the end of the day?  For more people to be more conscious and caring?  I don’t think the fear-mongers and war hawks at Fox News are going to encourage anybody to be more compassionate.  I don’t think the slew of KFC advertisements on TV are going to convince anybody to contemplate the suffering of chickens in factory farms.  With a massive, corporate-owned media that’s already zombified so many people, the responsibility lies on our shoulders, alone, to bring back a little sense and rationality to the conversation.  It’s a heavy burden, but it’s ours. So, sure, maybe artmaking is a passive form of activism.  But it can change minds, and that’s always, always the first step. [emphasis added]

Incredibly, Lisa has also used her own body as a canvas for her work!  Apparently it’s a tradition among tattoo artists that the first tattoo they get is self-done.  When she was 17, Lisa tattooed her animal friend Echo on her calf:

Lisa rescued Echo while she was traveling, and they became constant companions:

She was the most incredible little friend & traveling companion a girl could ever hope for…we traveled together, from Portland all the way to the East coast, and then back home to Orange County. I managed to sneak her through Greyhound and countless subway security checks just to get her back home with me.

Outside of those few incidents when I had to hide her in my bra, I never even bothered trying to keep her confined. She never really left my side, even though I was sleeping in parks and on rooftops, and she had every opportunity to. She always understood that being close to me meant safety and warmth, so she stuck close and gave lots of kisses.

That little rat saw more of the country than a lot of humans have, and I was always so grateful for her company.

If you know me you know I’ve had rescued ratties continuously (except during prison, of course) for the last 6 years, so I can totally dig and attest to what Lisa’s saying.

Serrendipitously, Lisa and I grew up literally within half a mile–at most–from each other!!  I plan to get more tattoos from her in the future (if I’m ever not flat-broke!); she gives incredibly fair rates and, as you can see, does a wonderful job.  If you’re interested in getting some body-art done by her, she’s currently in the process of opening up a shop in Costa Mesa and if you would like to schedule a tattoo consultation or appointment for the future, you can contact her through her facebook  or e-mail, which is riot-bunny@hotmail.com.

Thank you, Lisa–for my tattoo, for using your talents to raise awareness about ecological issues and raise people’s consciousnesses (and consciences) in general–which is all desperately needed–and for your patience and help in developing this profile.

If you’re going to get a tattoo, get it from Lisa!–not only will you be supporting a counter-cultural vegan who’s in the process of building her career, you will get vegan ink, and YOU WILL GET AN INCREDIBLE TATTOO!!  And please let her know if you do that Jan sent you =)

Pictorial Highlight: Humboldt! #1

One of the most amazing places I’ve ever been, Humboldt County and its neighboring areas (Del Norte County and Trinity County) helped make me who I am today.  I feel a deep connection to those jaw-dropping redwood forests and the coastal environs that tend to accompany them.  I spent much time there in my crucial early days as a budding radical environmentalist, and the area’s majesty (and connected devastation) was extremely influential.

Usually I just let the pictures speak for themselves, with no introduction save for that like above.  But I want to remind everybody of something.  All these MARVELOUS, SPECTACULAR natural features, and the mesmerizing animals who live among them, of California that I try to convey to you–these are mere fragments of what once was.  At least 96 PERCENT of the old-growth redwoods have been logged, ravaged, clearcut, moonscaped.  96%!  Millions of acres, and it’s not “just” trees–think of all the animals killed and left homeless and resourceless through all that habitat destruction!  These are whole ecosystems of unfathomable fecundity, being wholesale holocausted.  And it’s still going on.  Can you imagine what it would’ve been like here before the conquest of the “civilized” (e.g. white Europeans) and the death-march of industrial civilization?  Here and in the rest of California, and the rest of the west, and the country, and the world?  Just something to think about.  Enjoying these places is not enough.  We have to realize what we have lost, what used to be–and what could be again if we act in accordance to principles of compassion, if we fight those battles that truly need to be fought.

A few books I’d like to recommend that are spectacular and that will educate and inspire you, and help you appreciate even more these amazing forests:  The Wild Trees by Richard Preston and From the Redwood Forest:  Ancient Trees and the Bottom Line (which features 50 pages of breathtaking photography) by Joan Dunning and pictures by Doug Thron.

Without further delay….

Roosevelt Elk.

The Stout Tree, whose “owner” wanted to cut down in the 1950s to make a dance floor on the flat stump top.

Great white egret in flight, collecting some twigs for her nest! So majestic and graceful…

Not great picture quality, but I wanted to capture the utter strangeness of this one, whom I call the CGI Tree. It looks painted, or digitally enhanced! Such strange patterns of color and texture!

Valley with some fall foliage on the eastern edge of Humboldt/western edge of Trinity County as you go into the Coast Range mountains.

Same valley–from almost the same position!–later that evening.

Butterfly chillin on the trail! ❤

Clam Beach wind-swept sand.

Rikki takes a moment to collect her thoughts =)

Gorgeous furry caterpillar in an area of wetlands.

These horses in their pasture are just too beautiful to not include. Sometimes you’ll see the Rooseveldt hanging out among the horses, both species just eating grass, minding their business.

The biggest sitka spruce I’ve ever seen, although there are ones much, MUCH larger (mainly in northwestern Washington and southeast British Columbia)

Part 2 coming next week!

I am tremendously honored to have my photos/words featured today on Broken Light Photography, a wonderful blog about people with mental illness and their photos and stories. Please check them out! Mental illness is horribly stigmatized in the dominant culture, but it is fundamentally NO DIFFERENT than any other illness–in fact, other illnesses (e.g. heart disease, diabetes) often have bad lifestyle habits contributing to them, whereas mental illnesses are a product of the stress and pollution and sociopathology of industrial civilization!

Broken Light Collective

Photos taken by Jan Austin Smith, a 27-year-old man living in Northern California. His mother, a Psychiatrist, has depression, and his closest aunt is bipolar, so he has been around people with mental health issues his whole life, and has a tremendous amount of compassion for them. He thinks that mental issues are so maligned in the dominant culture, it is tragically sad. Jan has also suffered from depression and anxiety himself, which has been hugely exacerbated by disabling chronic nerve pain in his knees, and 5 knee surgeries. On his website, TheRewildWest, he writes about human, Earth, and animal liberation, as well as displays his beloved nature photography. He’s also a novelist, and editor/book reviewer for the Green Theory and Praxis Journal.

About the photos: “These photographs were shot at Mono Lake in northeastern California. This is one of my favorite places in the world, a magical place. In…

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Cartoons About Saving Earth!

This is reposted from www.DeepGreenResistance.org ;  read about DGR– the most critical, crucial movement this world has ever seen–the movement to TRULY save the planet and its millions of species from sure destruction.  This is about REAL sustainability, not capitalist sustainability, or sustainability that allows us to continue being vastly overpopulated and overconsumptive and destructive.  Also, you can read my review of Deep Green Resitance, published in the Earth First! Journal, HERE.

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Cartoons may seem like a questionable choice of medium for conveying complex political theory, organizational strategy, and scathing critique of mainstream movements, But then, if you feel that way, you must not have read the work of Stephanie McMillan.

McMillan, a cartoonist based out of Florida in the United States, has two main cartoons. The first, Minimum Security, is a daily comic strip in the form of a long-form narrative, about a group of friends trying to stop ecocidal maniacs from destroying the Earth. The second, Code Green, began in August 2009 as a weekly editorial cartoon focused on the environmental emergency.

From the author, Stephanie McMillan:

“I’ve been thinking of quitting drawing “Code Green,” my weekly editorial cartoon about the environmental emergency. My income from paying clients has crashed; if I’m going to continue it, it needs to be supported by readers. So I’ve started a fundraising campaign.

I’m not going to be pushing this much at all. This is the only post I’m going to make about it. I’m okay with quitting this cartoon. But because some readers seemed dismayed when I talked about quitting, I didn’t feel right about ending it without giving you a chance to keep it going.”

Support Stephanie McMillan’s Code Green here: http://www.indiegogo.com/codegreen

If you like these cartoons, I highly recommend the hilarious graphic novel As the World Burns  by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan.  You can read my short blog-post review of it HERE.

Explore Your Bioregion!

Today I was feeling extremely depressed; among other reasons, both situational and neuro-chemical, my third novel, Redwood Falls, was rejected by what I and many others who’ve read the book thought would be the *PERFECT* publisher for it, Ashland Creek Press (they’re actively seeking eco-literature).  My work has been rejected hundreds of times and I’ve developed pretty thick skin, but this one really stung hard.  It truly seemed like the perfect match.  I wonder if the material was too radical for them?  It’s going to take somebody with serious chutzpah to publish Redwood Falls, as it involves tree-spiking, knocking down power lines, sabotaging railroad tracks, and bombing oil refineries–a sort of modern-day Monkey Wrench Gang, but more radical (more extreme ecological problems demand more “extreme” methods of combating the problems!), and with more of a literary bent–I’m not saying my book is better than The Monkey Wrench Gang, I’m just saying the narrator Foster is a tortured writer whose mother (a painter) will do ANYTHING she can to keep him from writing, because she is terrified he will end up an addict or a suicide, like so many other writers and creative people in general.

My apologies for the tangent; it somehow felt relevant.  So I decided that I needed a little time in nature to soothe my tormented psyche.  I took my shirt off (gotta get dat Vitamin D!), leashed up Rikki, and walked the half mile to a nice spot at the nearby Sonoma creek.  It was so very peaceful and cathartic and healing.  I sat in the calm, cool water.  I threw stikkis for Rikki.  She chewed on them, and I watched her nosh at the creek side salad bar, as she is wont to do.  There was a 20-foot blackberry bush overhanging the edge of the creek at one place; I found some of the ripe ones and ate them straight off the branch.  They were exquisitely sweet and juicy and just a tad tart.  There’s nothing like picking and eating wild berries right off the plant.  Some of them I ate straight up, some I dipped in the creek to clean off–I wonder which is better?  My mom is always worried I’ll get giardia, because I make a point of at least tasting, if not drinking, all fresh water I swim in that seems reasonably clean.  Hey, I’m a mostly-healthful-eating vegan–hence I’ve got a dynamite immune system, and the creek and river and stream water hasn’t hurt me yet!  It’s probably less dangerous than drinking most municipal tap water, given the prevalence of flouride (an INDUSTRIAL BYPRODUCT of fertilizer manufacturing) and chlorine and other pollutants.

Beautiful rock I came across in the creek.

 

My favorite part, though, was when I sat on a little boulder jutting out of the creek side and stuck my feet and shins in the water.  Dozens and dozens of minnows, beautiful, graceful little fish, came up and began nibbling on my toes and feet and legs.  It tickled a little, but felt nice, too.  It had been a couple days since I showered, so they were probably munching off bits of dead skin (Your first reaction is probably, “Gross!”  But truly, it’s a beautiful thing!)  I felt very connected to my local ecosystem in that moment, with juice from the blackberries still sweet on my tongue and the sun heating my bare flesh and my legs pleasantly cool in the water.  And that is so important.  I’ve been to National Parks and felt less connected to the place than I did to this relatively meager little locale; and yet it’s close enough for me to walk to, even with my fucked up knees.  We don’t need to travel far (and soon enough, when automobile culture “crashes,” we won’t hardly be able to!)–to have a marvelous nature experience.  Get to know your local bioregion; it may be the difference between Life and Death when our umbilical cord to industrial water and food is severed by ecological collapse.

I also picked up trash–EVERY DAY is nature clean-up day when you’re an Environ-meddler!!  I ended up with three plastic grocery bags (one of which I was able to salvage to pick up Rikki’s turds with), a big plastic garbage bag, an unidentifiable chunk of clear plastic, bottle caps, an Arrowhead plastic water bottle (think about that one for a second and you might glean one of the pathologies of civilization), an aluminum beer can, and a whole fucking folding chair, buried in about two inches of mud and rocks on the creek side–who knows how long it’s been there!  And it’s still in perfect working order, I might vinegar the shit out of that bitch and bring it home for the porch!

Doing all that made me think that, when you get right down to it, a big part of environmentalism is cleaning up the SHIT–literal and figurative–left behind by the assholes who came before us.  Whether that shit is actual shit, or nuclear waste, or pollution in the air/water/soil, that’s what it comes down to.  (If you want to learn more about what industrial humans leave behind, I highly recommend What We Leave Behind  by Jensen and McBay, and Garbage Land  by Elizabeth Royte.)

But this is the absolutely essential part, so PAY ATTENTION!:  It is not enough to merely clean up the shit left behind by humans.  Because we can never get it all!  What we have to do is ***STOP THE SHIT FROM BEING MANUFACTURED IN THE FIRST PLACE.***  In other words, if we want life on Earth to continue with any kind of diversity, we MUST hinder the smooth functioning of industrial syphilization, with the ultimate goal of dismantling it wholesale.  That’s it.  That’s the only way we’re going to stop the current Mass Extinction of plants and animals underway, caused by industrial civilization.

Rikki, NOT pleased at the prospect of a post-creek bath.

Extinction Explosion

It’s long past time to use our lives as a monkeywrench in the gears of civilization.  This is calamitous.  WAKE UP!!  www.DeepGreenResistance.org/dew

From the Earth First! Newswire blog:

Extinction Explosion.