New Clear Vision

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Tragic History

March 24, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Walt Anderson

A Naturalist’s Reflections on the Yarnell Fire

by Walt Anderson

Nine months after the tragic Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013, the event continues to touch many of us with a rawness only slightly softened by time.  My memories remain vivid.  With thunderstorm activity developing in the Prescott area that afternoon, Cactus cross, a burn survivorI grabbed my camera and headed out to the Doce Fire area south of Granite Mountain.  Fierce little rain squalls gave me subjects to explore visually.  The powdered ash deposits post-fire are very vulnerable to erosion, a step in the ecologic process I wanted to capture.

Then as a squall shifted south, I could see in the distance a column of smoke that caused my hair to rise — it appeared to me that the small town of Yarnell was on fire.  Without hesitation, I leaped into the car and shot toward Skull Valley, having to slow down once in the midst of an intense downpour.  The closer I got to Peeple’s Valley, the more my concern intensified, and I made a decision that gave me a perfect vantage point on a ridge north of the fire.  If I had continued any farther down the highway, I would have been stopped by emergency vehicles and stuck in a line of other cars prohibited from moving farther. (more…)

Line of Fire

July 02, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Ecology, Randall Amster

Finding Resilience in Times of Crisis

by Randall Amster

Living in Arizona for nearly two decades, and for more than half of that time in the central highlands region around Prescott, has candlespresented innumerable challenges and opportunities alike. Many will be familiar with Arizona’s haywire politics and the international controversies that have ensued. Those of us working on progressive causes here often find solace in the fact that — though the victories may be few — this is where the work needs to be done. I’m thankful to have been part of this ethos of engagement over the years, even as I’m preparing to head eastward and embrace new possibilities. (more…)

Fire on the Mountain

June 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Walt Anderson

Burning Desires and Incendiary Thoughts

by Walt Anderson

Hot winds batter the landscape, sucking whatever moisture they can coax from desiccated plants.  Record-breaking temperatures challenge the survival skills of wildlife, as they and we wait for the merciful monsoonal rains, should they come in a month.  We wait 1  Little Granite Mountain, Doce Fire_17 (Large)and watch, knowing that the first plume of smoke to rise skyward could create a blazing inferno defying our feeble but expensive efforts to limit the damage.

And then it happens.  June 18, 2013, starts out as a typical central Arizona early-summer day — vivid blue skies unlike one ever sees in humid coastal areas, stiff breezes to cool one off (or dry one out) as temperatures reach 90.  After running morning errands, I return home for lunch.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see what appear to be clouds — curious!  And then there it is — that dreaded, rising column of multicolored smoke signaling a wildfire at the worst possible time of year.  I drop everything and race out the door with my camera.  This trumps everything else.  (more…)

America’s Future

December 05, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Roberto Rodriguez

War and Peace in the 21st Century

by Roberto Cintli Rodriguez

Despite the political rhetoric, America is not defined by its division into red and blue states, but by its addiction to imperialism, exceptionalism and a military budget that positions it as The United States of War.

In the United States, Arizona has come to represent many things; a super-magnet for the ignorant, the backward and the insane; a home to racial supremacists and xenophobes and, most of all, a laboratory for hate legislation.

And yet its real political function nowadays is that of a convenient political distraction.

Truth is, Arizona is but a mirror of the rest of the nation. It is what permits Americans to point the finger at this desolate state, allowing them to feel superior because it represents what America isn’t. (more…)

In Defense of Tumbleweeds

October 08, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Walt Anderson

Reflections of Ourselves in Coping with an ‘Invasive Species’

by Walt Anderson

Drifting along, like a tumbling tumbleweed.  That catchy tune warbled by the Sons of the Pioneers somehow epitomizes nostalgia for the Old West.  Never mind that the tumbleweed is a carpetbagger, an interloper, an émigré otherwise known as Russian thistle.  I’ve heard tell that the Russkies sent it here as a kind of biological weapon, a plague on our plains, a prickly infestation designed to lay waste to our grasslands, to overwhelm us with its ability to take any of our attacks against it and come back stronger than ever.  Where is the real truth here?

As an ecologist, I am always suspicious of introduced species.  What are they outcompeting?  What natives suffer at the advancing wave of heavily armed hordes of aggressive Salsola? (more…)

Cynical or Kynical?

July 09, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Exposing Rightwing Propaganda Through Leftist Humor

by Devon G. Peña

Given recent events in Arizona and Texas, I have been thinking a lot about ideology. So, yesterday I was re-reading the Slovenian social critic and philosopher, Slavoj Žižek considered by many to be the “Elvis of social theory.” He’s good, but I would not deify him.

Anyway, I went back to Žižek’s 1989 book, The Sublime Object of Ideology (London and New York: Verso Books) and found a familiar passage that has been in the back of my mine ever since I first came across the Texas Republican Party Platform and reported it in the piece I did last week on Fear and Loathing in Texas. Žižek makes the following fascinating statement:

“The most elementary definition of ideology is probably the well-known phrase from Marx’s Capital: ‘Sie wissen das nicht, aber sie tun es’ (‘They do not know it, but they are doing it.’) The very concept of ideology implies a kind of basic, constitutive naïveté: the misrecognition of its own presuppositions, of its own effective conditions, a distance, a divergence between so-called social reality and our distorted representation, our false consciousness of it.” (more…)

A Great Aridness

June 07, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Thirsting for Water and Justice in the American Southwest

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I have traveled extensively in America’s Southwest. I have visited cities like Austin and El Paso, Texas; Denver and Boulder, Colorado; Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona. I have walked in the great deserts of Sonora in Arizona, Mojave in California and Chihuahua in Mexico. In fact, I live in Southern California, not very far from Los Angeles, a monster city built in the desert.

When I went to the Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, I thought I was on another planet. Massive boulders, one over the other like pancakes, of great diversity in size, shape and form, and spread all over the desert landscape, give the impression that this is a place the gods created only recently, or that it was made in the beginnings of time but forgotten for countless millennia. The cacti stand next to these giant stones like witnesses of an extraordinary story never told. Bushes and exquisite flowers add luster to this gem of the natural world.

The Southwest is a beautiful country of blue skies, little water and plenty of land, most of which is semi-arid, arid or desert. (more…)


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