Core Samples | ParkRecord.com

Core Samples

Jay Meehan, Record columnist

Trampin’ along the convoluted corridors of Westminster College last Friday evening on my way to the hear Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy deliver the keynote address for Westminster’s annual Bioneer Conference, I couldn’t help but sense the high degree of youthful energy in the room. I thought of Walt Whitman.

"Come my tan-faced children,

Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,

Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?

Pioneers! O pioneers!"

It’s actually fairly mind-boggling how often ol’ Walt comes to my rescue when I find myself in need of properly characterizing a specific experience. The cat always had a way with words and of cutting to the chase. And he would have related immediately to this bunch of environmental activists manning tables at the conference Share Fair.

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Although a few were obviously veterans of past skirmishes with the power structure, their steady gaze and the twinkle in their eyes as they attempted to enlist you in their particular "green" cause betrayed their inner youth. The troops must be rallied! We’re burning daylight! Time’s a wastin’!

"For we cannot tarry here,

We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,

We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,

Pioneers! O pioneers!"

Before you think it was all work and no play for the portly gray dude as he wandered from table to table gathering flyers and newsletters and becoming immersed in conversations on subjects as varied as getting the lead out of condors, bringing wolves back to Utah, and tar-sand extraction, I should probably mention the vast amount of quality finger food and beverages available to the keen sighted. Not that there wasn’t danger.

Tim DeChristopher, the now-exalted "monkey-wrencher" who disrupted the sale of Utah gas and oil leases back in December of 2008, had that look of a deer-caught-in-the-headlight when he found himself standing directly between me and a plate of those yummy little triangular spinach-stuffed munchies.

For once, DeChristopher, who was to have gone on trial in federal court that very day before it was postponed for the fifth time, opted for discretion rather than valor and stepped aside. He might possibly have heard my stomach growling or, more likely, he had more important fish to fry.

"O you youths, Western youths,

So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,

Plain I see you Western youths, see you with the foremost,

Pioneers! O pioneers!"

I’m always somewhat astounded that so much "hope" exists among activists as regards the future of the planet. Myself, I’ve long subscribed to the Ed Abbey axiom that "a pessimist in an optimist in full possession of the facts."

Of course you can easily tell that such an old-school attitude is beside the point when interacting with this current batch of biological pioneers. With them, it’s all about the journey of working with nature to heal nature. Once again, the Dylan line "get out of the new one (world) if you can’t lend a hand" comes to mind.

"Have the elder races halted?

Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?

We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,

Pioneers! O pioneers!"

I’ll guarantee you that Chuck Bowden and Molly Molloy and other visionary elders of the movement haven’t halted or drooped or ended their respective ongoing quests. Their keynote, while as startling as their stories and statistics concerning genocide in and around Ciudad Juarez may be, stirred both activism and hope. There’s that word again.

"All the past we leave behind,

We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,

Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,

Pioneers! O pioneers!"

I must admit, I left the conference with a sense of renewed faith in activist youth everywhere. Just don’t stand in their way. Walt Whitman lives! Bioneers! O bioneers!

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and a free-lance writer with a background in commercial and community radio, among other pursuits. He has been a columnist and feature writer for various Park City publications going back to 1973.

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