Susan Tixier is a 59-year-old grandmother who lives in a trailer in Escalante, Utah, pretending to manage the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, “unmanageable by any earthly force though they are.” She sits on the boards of several other environmental groups in the West.

Monday, 22 Jan 2001


But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

— Robert Frost, “Two Tramps in Mud Time”
found in Deep Play, by Diane Ackerman

“Going to work,” for me, is raising myself up on my elbows to watch the sun’s rays hit 50-mile Mountain, the Kaiparowits Plateau, the heart of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This time of year with the snow clinging to it, the long, straight-east-facing cliff reflects pink gold; during the summer, when the Earth has shifted some on her axis, the plateau looks butter yellow at first light, uninterrupted as it peeks over the eastern horizon. Yawn. Coffee. Outside for a minute. Bow to the four directions. Welcome the day. And hit the desk at the other end of the trailer.

Me, hiking with another Great Old Broad, Fred Goodsell, in a redrock canyon near Moab in southern Utah.

Photo: Ray Bloxham.

Today’s business begins with the all-important staff call with Mary and Erin. Each of us works at home, or wherever she wants. It saves money (no overhead) and wear n’ tear on the staff, but it does mean we have many email and telephone conferences. Today we have to confirm final arrangements for Steve Allen’s series of slide shows in California and set arrangements for his shows in New Mexico, all coming up in February. Steve, a member of the Broads’ Board of Directors, is a pioneer in the art of canyoneering and has spent the last 30 years covering more vertical miles than most of us will walk horizontally! He’s seen, and photographed, the inside of canyons no one else has. He said, “I’m yours. I’ll do the shows on behalf of the Broads. All you have to do is make the arrangements.” Yeah, right!

So, between 11 and 20 Feb., Steve’s scheduled to have nine shows in the Bay area — at Patagonia, in Mendocino, at Golden Gate Park, Lodi, Stockton, and the Sierra Club, plus a couple of fund-raisers. Invitations are going out this week. Cards to members are already in the mail. Press packets have to go out. We have to make some posters to send to volunteers (God bless ’em!). Who’s going to oversee that?

At the end of February, Steve’s doing shows in New Mexico. We have the dates and the places; who’s going to get the list of names, print the cards, send the invitations? Yargh! So much to do yet.

Second item. Newsletter. Broadsides is scheduled to go out mid-February. Erin, did you get my piece: “Gale Norton — Great Old Broad for Wilderness NOT”? Do we have the pictures we took of the Broadwalk across Nevada in September?

Great Old Broads’ Broom Brigade meets the Shovel Brigade in Jarbidge, Nev.

Photo: Great Old Broads.

Have you covered the Jeep Safari over Easter weekend? We need as many Broads as we can get, dressed in black, to place black crosses in the lands that the hundreds of ATVs rip up during that foul week. Apparently, the event can’t be stopped or even much controlled, so all we can do is mourn. Do we have those pictures from last year’s event, those pathetic pictures showing the Broads trying to “sweep up” after these guys?

Do you have the information about the Broadwalk in D.C. in April? Again, I’d like an all-points bulletin to go out to all our Broads across the country. Three days “hiking the hill” to visit with our congressional delegation and to visit (do you think she’d let us in the building?!) Gale Norton, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, 25-27 Apr.

How ’bout the Camping in Cowpoop in early May? I think we have some pictures of the mess we found when we went out this fall. After all the snow in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and no cows, maybe some of those little springs have recovered. This is a hard sell — how do we get Broads to want to go out and camp in a smelly, messy, public lands wonderland for cows, take pictures, and then write about it?! I’ll have to write something to tell the readers just how much fun we had.

Thanks you all. I’ve gotta go raise some money! I’ll talk with you in a few days.

Lunchtime. I take a long run down a snowy dirt road on “the desert” between 50-Mile and Escalante canyons to put my thoughts in order about what the Broads are and what we do so I can convince a foundation or two about our fund-worthiness. (This is work, don’t you know!)

Just tell it like it is: The Broads honor these public lands because they are (mostly) wild and free from human impact. The Broads believe this country should stay that way — without ATVs, without cows, without any use that will impact the natural course of the land’s slow evolution. As I stand, huffing my old lungs full of cold, really fresh (and desperately needed) air, I listen to the snow sloughing off the trees, watch the ravens play; I can almost feel the grasses, the cacti, the P-J drinking up the snow-melt, under the crust, now sequined with fish-scale crystals from the warm sun and cold wind. Damn! This is. Simply is. Natural. All this takes place naturally and should not be interfered with by me or anyone else. How can I convince those dear people in their offices, bent over their paperwork, that this precious heritage is as irreplaceable as any part of America, what little there is left of these wild lands, and that the Broads can help save it?! Hmmm.