Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Welcome to this site revisited

Now that there may be some new eyes coming to this site, thanks to a North Coast Journal article, I thought I would re-state the basic idea for this blog.

I wanted to create a space on the Internet to explore what makes the North Coast the North Coast: what makes this a particular place.

My first inspiration was Wes Jackson’s book (published in 1996, the year I got here) called Becoming Native to This Place. This was a powerful idea for a newcomer. How do you come to know and be invested in a place? The idea of becoming native is to feel the same deep identification, and to have the same stake in a place as someone born here, with generations of ancestors buried in its ground. The passage of time obviously helps, but it's not enough.

The way Wes Jackson and others use the concept (like the poet Gary Snyder, it goes beyond roots in a community or an economy, but includes the particulars of the natural landscape. In their view, becoming native to a place is essential to keeping its character and its ecology alive.

That seemed especially appropriate here, not only because of the close relationship people on the North Coast have to their natural landscape, but because of the active presence of Indigenous peoples, the Natives of this place.

So on this blog and a companion one, called North Coast Texts, I started with a few themes. The first had to be the Native American presence and specifically the process of ongoing efforts of reconciliation, involving local tribes (especially the Wiyot) and the non-Native community, relations within the Native community, and how this might affect the relationship of everyone here to the place itself.

As for the place itself, I started from the ground up, by exploring aspects of local geology (here ) and also here.)

I also began describing my experiences and background as a newcomer here, and here (way down at the bottom of the month), and a little about the arts on the North Coast (mostly photos.)

There's more noodling on the basic concept, too.

I frankly had hoped to start dialogues on all these subjects, and more, through the comments. That hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it still can. I’d love to find a way in which people feel comfortable discussing their experiences as newcomers. Or exploring what they value most about living here, and how they feel they can best express it.

That, by the way, was why I created two North Coast blogs. North Coast Texts was for exposition and longer posts. This blog was supposed to be more for discussions: more “blog-like.” But whether or not that happens, the articles and interviews exist as an archive, a useful resource.

Lately this blog has become more blog-like in that my more recent posts are shorter and more personal---more about how I interact with this place, and it interacts with me. I think the idea is still an important one. It transcends our likes and dislikes about institutions, politics and economics, although all of those are relevant. Eventually though it has something to do with our feeling for the place, and maybe even the feeling of the place for us.

Monday, January 23, 2006

North Coast Links

Since Eureka was a battleground over a proposed new Wal-Mart, there's likely still some interest in the issues raised then. I wrote a review published on the cover of the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, with a HUGE illustration, which you can find here in its on-line version, or in a longer version here.

Also, some of the material in an earlier post here became part of a cover story in the North Coast Journal about Humboldt Quakers and Guantanamo Bay Prison. It seems to have started ripples that are still moving outward several weeks after publication. Locally, it seems to have sparked interest in the Guantanamo effort (new participants in the Guantanamo group's meetings) and in the Quakers (new people at worship for several Sundays in a row.)

One letter to the editor in the Journal indicated that other local churches might find ways to support the Quakers' efforts. And some national Quaker organizations have taken note as well.

The cover story of this coming Thursday's issue of the Journal is on North Coast bloggers. I was asked to contribute part of it, on my blogging experiences. Should be interesting.