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  May/June 2000 Articles:
Beyond the Sunset
Big Sky River
Core of Discovery
Buffalo Nation
How to Heal Our Cities
Inside Sierra
Ways & Means
Lay of the Land
Good Going
Food for Thought
Body Politics
Bulletin: News for Members
Hidden Life
Mixed Media
Last Words

Sierra Magazine

It was a pleasure to read Jeff Greenwald's article on "The Future of Adventure" (January/February 2000). His focus on where rather than when or even how to travel "to get joyfully lost" misses vast territories of discovery, however. Sometimes it's the fungus underfoot or the bird overhead that teaches and inspires us the most. Kerouac's Ray Smith is exhilarated even while camping under a highway bridge. Emerson remarks, "He who travels to be amused travels away from himself, and grows old even in youth among old things. Traveling is a fool's paradise." I do agree with Mr. Greenwald on this point: "If knowledge is the goal, the arena for exploration is limitless." There will always be wondrous times and methods for discovering [wild places] and one's backyard. It is my personal goal to teach my children to find the world in a cubic meter.
Bruce Gaynor
San Francisco, California

You want an exhilarating adventure in an alien land? Try standing alone or with too few others on a street corner in your hometown, carrying a sign that urges forest protection or a mega-corporation boycott or, I am not making this up, support for local businesses, while hundreds of locals and tourists flip you the bird, tell you to get a life or a job, or draw a bead on you with an imaginary gun. That'll send a chill down your spine.
Mary Sojourner
Flagstaff, Arizona

Reflecting on history at the close of a millennium ("Getting It Right," January/February) suggests something about the future. Humans' political state (city-state, nation, empire) has always been driven by the scale of threats it faces, perceived or real. City-states are more vulnerable to aggression and so band together into nations, and so forth. The threats now facing the people of the world are global in scale: climate change, ozone-layer depletion, habitat destruction, alien species, overpopulation, resource depletion. It is apparent that a world of self-interested nations cannot adequately deal with these threats. By no means is a global state the preferred choice, but my guess is that it will be the only political form that will have a chance to prevail against the threats that are lining up, and we will be forced into that form, perhaps 50 to 100 years from now. Anybody care to think about what that might look like?
Bryan James
Lakewood, Colorado

The January/February millennium-issue article "Getting It Right" is wonderful, at least as far as it goes. But it does not paint an optimistic picture of the future based on our environmental work during the 20th century. According to the Census Bureau, the United States is on a course of surpassing a population of half a billion within the lifetime of many of today's Sierra Club enthusiasts. (We are now at 274 million, growing at a California per decade). The effect: Most of the problems we fight, and the multitudes we cannot fight, will worsen no matter what. We don't have to let this happen. We can join the fight to stabilize U.S. population.
Mike Hanauer
Lexington, Massachusetts

Congratulations on the five big ideas ("Thinking Big," January/February). All are inspiring and eminently supportable. The only drawback is that you have them in the wrong order. "Livable Cities" should be at the top of the list because the potential impact of this idea is the deepest and most widespread of all. Unless we catch on to the European model of treasuring our great cities, our environment is doomed.
Marilyn Larson
Washington, D.C.

As long as we're thinking big, I'd suggest a bill to transfer jurisdiction over the national forests from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior. If you want to change the goals of the Forest Service from utilization to preservation then a complete culture change is necessary, and transfer is the surest way to accomplish the task.
Connie Ellen Shearer
Gardena, California

Any list that does not include slashing greenhouse-gas emissions to avoid the worldwide catastrophe associated with global warming is not viable. Ending climate change should be the Sierra Club's number one priority.
Jane Nickodemus
Newburyport, Massachusetts

Money is not, as you say [in the January/February "Goodbye to All That" item about funding political campaigns], "the root of all evil." It never has been. The correct quotation (from the Bible) is, "The love of money is the root of all evil" (I Timothy, VI, 10).
Valerie Vaughan
Amherst, Massachusetts

Meryl Landau's otherwise fine article ("Common Ground," January/February) missed one of the most important benefits of cohousing: shared meals. Menus here at Muir Commons range from the ordinary to the sublime. And cheap! We supply the labor so the average price of a meal is $2.25, kids half that. Everyone has their turn in the kitchen each month so the rest of the time we have the luxury of leisure at dinner time. People cook in pairs, so you really get to know your neighbors. Cleanup is in gangs of four, so the work goes fast. Of course, we all have our own kitchens and eat at home too, but after living here for nine years, I know how sharing meals strengthens our social web. Given that humans are social creatures, consider the ripple effect on civic life from community meals.
Lauren Ayers
Davis, California

Cohousing is, in most cases, an improved suburbia, but it is still suburbia. While the author notes that these communities use less land than the average suburban development, they still use more land per capita than city living. One cohousing community used as an illustration is six miles from downtown. That means six extra car-commuting miles each way to and from work and most shopping. According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, development of suburbs is now proceeding at twice the rate of the 1980s. There are, however, many other models of ecological living within cities. These models encourage the protection of the little open space we still have and the mixing and cooperation of different ethnic, age, and economic groups--just what we need if we are to survive another century.
Paul Tick
Albany, New York

Sierra welcomes letters from readers in response to recently published articles. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Email

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