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Lisa Jones' Posts

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Laugh at the crying Indian all you want — the joke’s on us

Maybe you're too young to remember the 1971 TV commercial featuring the Native American guy in the fringe suit canoeing into the industrial heart of, let's say, Cleveland. He disembarks, stands at the side of the road, has litter thrown onto his moccasins from a passing car, and turns to the camera with one tear rolling down his cheek. So maybe that wasn't what you were reminded of when you saw the new crying-Indian photo that's been popping up around the Interwebs lately -- the one who is ostensibly lamenting a rainforest's ruin. But surely you've seen the parodies that …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Citizens battle to keep Delta County from becoming the coal bed methane capital of Colorado

It started out as a simple item on a regional planning commission agenda in remote Delta County, Colo. A recently reworked natural gas well in Delta County. Photo: Jeremy Puckett, WSERC. But since that meeting on April 9, the possibility that up to 600 coal bed methane wells could be drilled here has whipped up a firestorm of dissent in this quiet western Colorado valley. It has flushed hundreds of ranchers, fruit farmers, housewives, realtors, and environmentalists to public hearings, where they speak out against an economic, social, and environmental threat they fear could ruin their community and livelihoods. Why? …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The improbable story of how Bogota, Colombia, became somewhere you might actually want to live

"We had to build a city not for businesses or automobiles, but for children and thus for people," said a man in a speech last year. "Instead of building highways, we restricted car use. ... We invested in high-quality sidewalks, pedestrian streets, parks, bicycle paths, libraries; we got rid of thousands of cluttering commercial signs and planted trees. ... All our everyday efforts have one objective: Happiness." Enrique Penalosa (on left). Photo: Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. Did the voters of Boulder, Colo. write in the Dalai Lama as their mayor? Had George Harrison turned to city planning in …

Read more: Cities, Politics

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Navajo pageant winner is an enviro star

Outfitted in moccasins and traditional dresses, the four contestants in the 49th Miss Navajo Nation Pageant -- held this past September in Window Rock, Ariz. -- demonstrated a dazzling array of cultural skills. They discussed, in Navajo, the Treaty of 1868. They carded and spun wool, and they displayed rugs they had woven. They prepared fry bread from scratch over an open fire of their own making. Just about the only things the contestants didn't do were to butcher sheep (that popular event was cancelled this year) and to exhibit their bodies in bikinis and evening gowns. Karletta Chief, bright …

Read more: Politics

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One man taxes his way to a healthy relationship with the earth

Dev Carey is a tall, handsome man with a Ph.D. in ecology. He can swing dance like a pro, identify every plant in the meadow outside his house, and talk nervous youths into rappelling off cliffs. He can do many things, but one thing he can't do is separate himself from the morality of any given situation. Especially the environmental morality of any given situation. Dev Carey, flower child. Photo: Lisa Jones. This is something of a curse. Like Cassandra in Greek mythology, he stares unblinking at the writing on the wall, while the rest of us chatter and sigh …

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He's all abuzz about socially responsible coffee

I am in the local coffee shop in Paonia, Colo., drinking a cup of joe and pleasantly anticipating its effects on my brain. My companion, Eli Wolcott, isn't drinking a drop. He doesn't ask what coffee can do for him; he asks what he can do for coffee. Eli Wolcott (the mug's just a prop). Photo: Lisa Jones. Specifically, Eli wonders whether he can help coffee workers in the remote hills of southern Mexico improve their quality of life and cause less environmental damage. He's working with them to revamp their operations from the ground up -- from processing the …

Read more: Food

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Who knew river restoration could be so much fun?

As far as the North Fork of the Gunnison River in western Colorado is concerned, there's good news and there's bad news. On one hand, it drains one of the most beautiful valleys on the planet -- its headwaters tumble from the Ragged and West Elk mountains into the broad, gentle North Fork Valley. The Gunnison River -- ain't it pretty? Photo: Lisa Jones. On the other hand, the river has been used hard for decades. Coal mines, ranches, and orchards dot the valley, each of them diverting water, often with cheap and ecologically destructive methods. There are three gravel …

Read more: Uncategorized

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A Colorado family welcomes the simple life

Why would Dale Murphy, a senior geologist with Enserch Exploration, leave a $58,000-a-year job in Dallas and take his family to a remote town in Colorado where the employment opportunities range from sorting cherries to working a supermarket cash register? The Murphy family, home on the range. Photo: Lisa Jones. Sanity. He and his wife Sheryl didn't want to raise four-year-old Hayden and seven-year-old Ginger in suburban Dallas. Dale had a key experience one day while walking across a bridge on a job near Great Falls, Mont. A truckful of teenagers drove by and yelled at him explosively, in unison. …

Read more: Cities, Living

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A scientist fights back against exotics

The Western U.S. has many well-known problems -- overgrazing, rampant development, Garth Brooks look-alikes. But one troublesome issue that hasn't gotten much attention is cheatgrass, an exotic weed that arrived here in the 1890s and has since taken over an area the size of Montana. Cheatgrass never prospers? Photo: Russel Stevens/Chuck Coffey, Noble Foundation. Because cheatgrass (aka: downy brome, junegrass, and broncograss -- it's the stuff that gets stuck in your socks when you walk in the desert) provides some forage early in the spring, most ranchers haven't recognized it as a significant threat. But the problem is that cheatgrass, …

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Preaching the gospel of ecotourism

Costas Christ has a knack for handling sticky situations. I got a glimpse of this as I was making my way home from an ecotourism conference in Senegal in the early 1990s. Along with a number of other conference participants, I was stuck in the airport in the capital city of Dakar. For some unknown reason, the ticket agents had stalled us, so we were doing what American ecotourists often do when the Third World reveals itself as more than rainforests and beaches -- we were freaking out. What kind of government did Senegal have, anyway? Were there jails under …

Read more: Uncategorized