D  e  s  e  r  t     E  x  p  o  s  u  r  e  April 2006


Heaven on Wheels
SW New Mexico
has become a bikers' paradise

Tour of the Gila
Turns 20

for Kids

Food in the Raw
Living Foods Learning Center offers an alternative to a "toxic" world.

The Writing on the Wall
For graffiti artists, the world is their canvas.

The Bus Stops Here
By bus from the Phoenix suburbs to Lordsburg.

A Decade of Desert Exposure
Favorite moments from our first 10 years

Columns & Departments
Editor's Note
Readers Survey
Desert Diary

Apollos of Dogdom
He Wrote the Book
What's Wrong with the Dems?
Tumbleweeds in Brief
Top 10

Celestial Cycles

The Starry Dome
Ramblin' Outdoors
People's Law
40 Days & 40 Nights
Border Book Festival
Archeology Society
Clubs Guide
Guides to Go
Henry Lightcap's Journal
Continental Divide

Special Section
Arts Exposure

Arts News
Gallery Guide

Body, Mind & Spirit
Beyond the Easter Bunny
Language of Change
Follow Your Heart
to Happiness

Red or Green?
Dining Guide


About the cover

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Community Forestry

I've just read the Gila WoodNet article ("Seeing the Forest for the Trees," March 2006). It's a fine piece of work. I think you have captured the spirit of what we are trying to do better than anyone has. I've taken the liberty of sending the article far and wide around the country to other forest restoration and community forestry advocates. Return reviews are very good.

Thanks for taking the time to create such a thoughtful article. It's a pleasure to have such a high-quality publication in our community.

Todd Schulke
Center for Biological Diversity
Pinos Altos

Making New Mexico Safe for Democracy

Your editorial ("30-Day Dud," March 2006) appalls me. As a rule I admire your insightful wisdom, backhanded praise and bad jokes, but now I must speak out.

Install democracy in New Mexico as our country has in other places???

You jest. I ask you, sir, how could our poor state afford to feed all the troops that the Federales, I mean the White House, requires to enforce democracy in such far-flung places as ours? These are growing American teenagers we are talking about, and they eat a lot. It would be an absurd burden, especially since they probably won't eat as many chiles as is healthy for them.

Then there are media coverage problems. The imposition of democracy on unwilling people being a newsworthy event, all the international media—BBC, NBC and ABC and the others (Fox probably wouldn't bother)—would be forced to learn where New Mexico actually is, and who will fund that?

Does your hard heart consider their plight?

Furthermore, you lament our existing (semi-democratic) governing body meeting in secrecy, yet I submit to you that making these meetings public would require massive changes to the public indecency laws, as nearly everything they do seems to be fairly disgusting. And, if all these august lawmakers were defending themselves against charges of public indecency they wouldn't have time to hum our official cowboy song (chosen without an open competition, I would like to point out).

Perhaps, since Virgin is so enamored of New Mexico, and seems to know where it is, we should simply look at getting them to tender a corporate takeover. Much simpler and eliminates all those nasty taxation issues.

And why pay salaries to both the governor of the state and the CEO of Virgin when they so clearly are pursuing the same thing? At least that's what they tell us. All we ask is a fully funded 401(k) for every citizen.

Traveling Ed Teja
Silver City

After the Storm

Your article "Storm Surge" (March 2006) was excellent. We are extremely grateful for your efforts, as well as those of Matt Shaw, Sergeant Jim Lee and the New Mexico National Guard, in getting our story and our needs out to the public. We have come to realize that without caring people like you, our recovery would not be possible.

On behalf of the Plaquemines Parish School Board, I would like to sincerely thank you for sending assistance our way during these trying times. Recovery is slow, but we are confident in our ability to rebuild our schools and communities.

Presently, more than 3,000 of our 5,200 students have returned to attend classes in one of the three remaining schools in our system. Our efforts to rebuild are well underway and we hope to reopen three additional schools in August. We hope that your article will generate interest in our efforts to reopen and refurbish our schools "down the road," as we say in Plaquemines. We will let you know the results.

Again, we commend your article and appreciate your help. We ask that you keep us in your thoughts as we continue to work towards rebuilding our school district.

James C. Hoyle
Superintendant, Plaquemines Parish Schools
Belle Chasse, Louisiana

Spaceport Pollution?

As someone planning to move soon from southern Massachusetts to southern New Mexico, I received the February issue of Desert Exposure at an interesting juncture of several issues of the Cape Cod Times. The Times articles were about the significant number of cases of childhood cancers manifesting here in mid-Cape— the Sandwich, Mashpee, Falmouth areas. Several years back, there were similar articles about the significantly higher levels of women's breast cancers in these exact same areas.

After many, many years of secrecy, neglect and outright environmental abuse, the local military center, Otis Air Force Base, was proven to be the cause of an enormous destruction of central Cape's groundwater. Gigantic plumes of chemicals were found to be emanating from those airfields, with thousands of gallons of drinking water, loaded with toxins and carcinogens, radiating southward and westward in the Sandwich-Mashpee-Falmouth area. Suits were filed, protests staged, and publicity mushroomed. Only then did the military superiors face the issues confronting them.

As I read your article, "Have Spacesuit, Will Travel," I saw something far, far different than the smiling millions of dollars about to crash-land onto southern New Mexico. I saw the hundreds of thousands of gallons of toxic and carcinogenic fuels that will be burned in those clear blue skies in the ensuing decades of space-shots at play, eager for sex in a vacuum, as they become existential cartoons in a Dizzy-ny World all their own making. The tons of fuels to be burned at take-offs. The fuels spilled. The crashes and chemical explosions. The consummate waste of precious and precarious fuels, and the deluging cancers of children and women soon to formulate.

A space adventure that your article suggests is humbling, spiritual? How's about just plain dumb? It is one more repeat of the classic Euroamerican mania, How the West Was Won, redundant with the mythic myopia of civilization (from the Latin civitas, city, i.e., city-based culture), a shallow and anemic culture of I-me-mine and up-yours, whose motto is, "If we can do it, we will do it." The last thing it ever asks itself is: Should we do it? Will it benefit humanity? Is this in harmony with the natural order?

Deficient in situational awareness, the city-zation paradigm is utterly devoid of contextual consciousness. Lacking any comprehension whatsoever of an organic cosmos, of an interactive holism, it is now merrily trashing space, the moon and other planets. Clearly, civilization is a culture of cosmic aliens.

Certainly, the pattern of its pathology is consistent. When Christopher Criminal was busy discovering America, shooting, raping and enslaving the gentle Arawaks, his thugs chopping off the heads of young boys just for the fun of it, wrote eyewitness Bartolomeo de las Casas, guess what was going on all over Europe? The state-sponsored building of insane asylums.

In the significant words of a Cree prophecy, "Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."

To which I would add, "Only after the last desert has been expunged."

Max Redfire Wheeler
Falmouth, Massachusetts


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