Saturday, December 18, 2004

Go Mainstream

Dear Matt,

We’re building an army, and you are among the first to sign up. was launched when Mark Sundeen and I joined up with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and asked ourselves -- could we combine Bobby’s dedication to defending the environment with our lessons from the Dean campaign and revitalize the conservation movement in the United States?

We formed as an answer to that question.

We formed because more than 90% of Americans hold our values in common -- clean air, clean water, open lands -- yet 40% think that "most environmental activists don’t really care about people."

We formed GoMainStream because the corporate plunderers have hijacked our public lands and the public process.

And we formed GoMainStream because they’ve hijacked our language. They call polluting the air "Clear Skies" -- and they call it "development" and "access" when they lock Americans out of the public lands that we hike, hunt, fish and love.

We’re going to change that. And we’re going to change it by building a new coalition from the bottom-up -- an organization that helps Americans take action and that works to reframe the debate about the future of our country.

We’re going to do it by connecting hunters fighting to maintain access to elk habitat with suburbanites combating urban sprawl.

Because conservation is not an issue of right or left, or urban versus rural, or red versus blue.

It’s an issue of who we are as Americans.

In the coming months, we’ll be rolling out the online elements of -- tools that will speed up the networking potential of online activists, and that empower Americans to defend our way of life.

But first we have to build the army, and you can help today.

Take one minute to forward this email to everyone you know, and ask them to join us. They can sign up by clicking here:

Thank you for being with us at the very beginning.

Mathew Gross

From Orion Magazine (Winter 2001):
One of the rarest turtles in North America sits in my left hand, peeing. The spring sun is hot on my shoulders, turtle urine wet in my palm. The toes of my rubber boots have sunk out of sight in a marshy meadow a few miles northeast of Baltimore, Maryland. Three hours ago I had left my home in mountainous western Maryland, forty-five minutes ago I was doing fifty-five miles an hour in Interstate 95 rush-hour traffic through the city, and now I'm nose to nose with a small creature who first appeared with dinosaurs in the Triassic Period and has changed very little since...

Ecologists consider most turtles a successful group of animals, meaning they haven't been wiped out by predators or by an inability to adapt to changing environments. They're reptiles, not amphibians. Amphibians spend part of their lifecycle in the water, often with gills, and later, when they develop lungs, move to more permanent residence on land. A kind of part-one, part-two existence. First you're an adolescent, splashing around in the neighborhood pond, and then your body begins to change, and you grow legs, move onto land, spend your days sober and dry. The bog turtle, however, is born in a bog or swamp or marshy fen and spends its whole life there, burrowing into mud, hauling itself out to bask on logs, back and forth between wet and dry. As if it can't make up it's mind and spends its whole life trying them both. Maybe it's this flexibility that has made these turtles one of the creatures that have changed least over the millions of years. And maybe it's the ambiguity of their habits that interests me.

Ambiguity means being susceptible to two different interpretations, indefinite, uncertain. It comes from a Latin word meaning "to wander." And no places are more ambiguous than swamps and bogs. Their identity wanders between solid and liquid, sloshes back and forth over the line between firm and yielding. Irish poet Seamus Heaney, in fact, called the bog a place that "missed its last definition by millions of years." How did such a sloppy place get past the creator?

Last night was my first washing dishes at a local Italian restaurant. Afterwards the chef cooked us all a delicious sit-down meal, complete with wine and beer. I love eating dinner at 10:30pm, French-style. I also love having my predisposition toward being a passive aggressive, self-loathing, intellectual snob challenged by the direct demeanor and politically incorrect jokes of my co-workers. One of them, a certain demonstrative and earnest type, is considering joining up, although he doesn't support this war. I may have mentioned the 5,500 deserters, but really who am I to tell him what to do? One gets the impression he has always been told, but needs to believe himself autonomous at all times. There is a hint of genuine strength withdrawing/residing in this need, I think. Anyway, how menial labor can open up the sinuses, comradery built around tempers and bullshit endured, Sopranos and Seinfeld jokes. My hands are still tingly pink. Time to finish the leftovers.

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