Returning from a month-long road trip to Los Angeles and back, putting 6100 miles onto our homey little Vistabule teardrop trailer, traveling mostly the blue highways of the West and staying mostly in county or state parks and US Forest Service or BLM campgrounds, we offer this purely impressionistic evaluation report on the state of the country.
The West is magnificent, grand, thoroughly tough and awe-inspiring – even in places where there are human settlements.
It’s challenging for human beings to live peaceably and fruitfully on the land and with the land, but there are hopeful signs everywhere that more and more people are trying, individually and severally, to do so.
Thank the balance-of-powers-that-be-so-far that a total rape of the West has not occurred, through apparent affirmation of the enormous public interest in keeping these lands well-stewarded. Public land and private land both, it seems to us in our limited drive-by assessment, are increasingly managed with an eye toward sustainability.
It doesn’t look as though gigantic faraway intrusive and disregarding corporate interests have completely captured the West (though I’m probably naïve). But to the extent that they have not, we must have civic groups and nonprofit advocacy organizations to thank for maintaining vigilance, pressure, and accountability.
Networks of social of environmental indicators that actually measure the qualities of our lives and environments can be seen in snippets of local and regional newspaper coverage, with a tendency to improved reporting.
We feel grateful to have such an opportunity to explore this exceptional country. As is evident, we feel both hope and fear, optimism and pessimism for the future.
Steven E. Mayer, Ph.D. / Effective Communities Project / May 20, 2013