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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
June 5, 2000


This weeks column was suppose to be about billboards and the constitutionality of visual blight, but somewhere between a major blunder on my part and a complete nervous breakdown, I decided a bit of post-modern musing was needed to help bring bring me back from the edge. Introspection is something all of us can afford to do. We can't afford not to.

For the past week I have been struggling with myself regarding this column and weather or not I was actually contributing to public discourse in a meaningful way. What prompted this existential crisis was coming to terms with the fact that of late I have been writing with a voice best compared to a cornered animal. I'm sure many readers would agree. As far as revelations go this one is not one I am proud of.

Ecopsychologists would refer to my writing style as positive disintegration. According to Deep Ecologist Joanna Macy this type of environmental despair can be expected as individuals "open like a wound to the travail of the world," becoming "susceptible to new sensations and confusions." Reflecting the chaos around them activists "become frantic; some of us in our desperation become mean."

There are many ways for this to be experienced. In Seattle people marched in the street while anarchists trashed Starbucks. In Colorado, a Ski Resort was torched by the Earth Liberation Front in attempt to protect Lynx habitat. The Animal Liberation Front carries out direct action against animal abuse in the form of rescuing animals and causing financial loss to animal exploiters, through the damage and destruction of property. Members of EarthFirst! chain themselves to trees, one Julia Butterfly Hill lived in a redwood named Luna for more than two years. Environmental roadrage is everywhere.

As the open system of environmental consciousness evolves, so too will the ways activist learn to communicate their growing panic. As a native of North San Diego county I have witnessed a thirty year assault on the biotic community. Running from bulldozers has the tendency to make one angry, failing to slow their progress, can make that same person go postal in print. Hence my obvious attitude problem.

Many North County residents understand my anger. Coastal development continues to rob beaches of their sand, traffic is only getting worse, and sewage spills are now a daily occurrence. Population is spinning out of control, as suburban sprawl shifts east, and urban infield pits established residents against elected officials and the development interests determined to milk as much profit from the region as humanly possible.

It has never been my goal to alienate the residents of North County, quite the contrary. My purpose has always bent to educate the public about the environmental crisis we are creating. Hopefully by acknowledging that the Chicken Little routine is growing tiresome to my readers, I can finely move beyond it and start offering something other than a weekly report on how much the sky has fallen.

The fact that I'm still writing for the North County Times proves that beneath my dark facade, lies the belief that change is possible. Hope has brings me to me to the keyboard week after week, and it will continue to do so as long as the NCT indulges my soapboxing.

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