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I’ve heard this term ‘happy chapter’ used to refer to so many a documentary or news report that, although terribly depressing, ends on a happy note.   So, for example, a piece about global warming might end with a description of what’s being done about it.  ‘There’s work being done’, implies the happy chapter; ‘others are on top of it. Not to worry all that much.’

Yes, there’s a compelling motivation for me, or any author or news reporter, to leave you upbeat.  You’ll like me more; my message will be more attractive than repulsive. Why read what I write if I bring you down?  Contrary to this compelling motivation, I, instead, am driven to honesty and transparency; to tell it like it is.  I doubt you’ll find this particular column upbeat but I hope you’re drawn to my honesty, my transparency and my message. If not, you can always find what you want to hear; what you’d like to believe.

I’m reminded about a local Salmon Summit I attended years ago. The keynote speaker was describing the gloom and doom of what happens to biological diversity within creeks and streams as development increases.  “I’m sounding like Dr. Doom”, he stopped his train of thought, “but I need to paint a picture that’s somewhat connected to reality.”

“……somewhat connected to reality!?“  Here’s a keynote speaker asked to tell his truth and the compelling drive to insert his ‘happy chapter’ tainted what we heard from him!  I don’t want to hear what’s somewhat connected to reality; I want to hear about reality -- straight up.  No happy chapter unless the happy chapter is real. If reality is gloomy then I want to hear from Dr. Doom. 

So what’s my reality? 

It’s very gloomy. (I would have said ‘pretty darn gloomy’ had I fallen for the happy chapter syndrome!)

Yes, Whatcom County is a hot bed of progressive individuals and organizations.  Our purchase of green power; the amount of LEED certified professionals and green building; the proportion of hybrids vehicles… (Damn, this is starting to sound like a happy chapter!).  We’re adorned by an abundance of cultural creatives. 

The sad reality, though, is that our environmental health is crashing – brought to you by the normals who embrace mainstream culture - far faster than the improvements brought forth by the likes of whom adorn our community. I am repulsed by the health of our environment and an economy/culture that denies its responsibility for its continued deterioration.  In The Ecology of Commerce Paul Hawken nailed it, suggesting that “There is no polite way to say that business is destroying the world.” 

But I will not ignore its symptoms and deny reality.  I will not live numb and distracted, even if remaining aware hurts. My truth is that we’re in a world of hurt and that baby steps need to be left for babies.

“If what we want is to stop the destruction of the life of this planet, then what we have been doing has not been working. We will have to do something else. Something else, as in something really else, as in ‘now for something completely different’ else. Not the same old tricks in a new shade of muddy green.” – Tim Bennett

Its little wonder that I spend my free time high and outside, driven by a hunger for high country.  Wilderness is magnificent in its own right, but time there also means less time being subjected to humanity’s insane tendency to destroy its very source and sustenance.

Loving the natural world and abhorring humanity’s drive to pave over Eden makes me crazy, so I live in two worlds. Derek Jensen got it right when he said that… “We’re fucked, and life is really, really good.”

(Oh no, Uncle Bill, I’m ending with a happy chapter!)

Sure hope you still like me.

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