03-07-2013 Joan Chevalier in Range Magazine On Reterritorialization

March 7, 2013

I have an opinion piece in the Spring issue of Range, along with this photo of me and my lovely little reiner, Diva.

Here’s the link to the article, “Giving Way to the Land.”

It’s a rewrite of an article that appeared in Bombay India, published by their Institute of Technology.  I write about the colonial attitude of America’s large environmental organizations toward rural Americans.

“Anthropologists call this reterritorialization when a dominant culture, wanting to take over a subordinate culture, tells itself a pretty little story about its own heroism in saving the savage wrong-headed natives from themselves.  The message the natives hear is:  “You can either make a living on our terms or you can disappear.”

The will to make rural Americans disappear is no where so well demonstrated as in a second article in Range magazine’s Spring issue, “Shell Game on Drakes Estero” by Carolyn Dufurrena. (rangemagazine.com)  Those of you who are members of the Sierra Club should resign immediately.  The Sierra Club (whose name is anathema in rural America) has led a campaign of misinformation, in league with the National Park Service, against a small oyster farm in California, all in the name of “wilderness.”  The NPS scientific case against the Lunny family has been discredited by the National Academy of Science not once — but twice.  The Park Service used false and misleading data: a report from 1955 on oysters in Japan was taken and applied to this farm — as though those numbers came from this location! –accusing the Drake Oyster Company of destroying the eel grass with oyster feces.  This is not happening: the eel grass is lush; the fish are flourishing.  They accused them of harming harbor seals — to the tune of a 80 percent reduction in their numbers.  The numbers indeed had dropped — not near the oyster farm, but far far away in — wait for it — WILDERNESS.  Yes, in the wilderness area due to hikers and kayakers — all my lovely liberal friends chortling little seal songs to the wildlife whilst carrying copies of Aldo Leopold in their knapsacks were enough to send the seals packing.  Heck they would send me packing.  It had nothing to do with the oysters.  But the National Park Service has spent, conservatively, about $10 million dollars trying to discredit this family, instead of doing something meaningful for the harbor seals in the wilderness area.  Of course, because it is official wilderness, they probably can’t do anything meaningful.

So, this family is going to lose its operations and 30 Hispanic families will lose their employment because of a will to power: in this case the notion that purifying the landscape from all economic activity keeps it a Disney wonderland for the very very few who are wealthy or fit enough to make their way into official wilderness.  And the kicker here is that this landscape would not be intact and public today, but for this family and the other rural operations who came together to protect it decades ago.  The levels of betrayal here are Dickensian.

The story is well captured in this video here:

http://vimeo.com/52331881

I will be writing more about this . . .  count on it.

Joan Chevalier is a speechwriter in New York. Her pieces have appeared in the Boston Globe, Washington Times, and Wall Street Journal. check http://www.joanchevalier.com.

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