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Engaging Truth
Contents:
  1. Sheepfold Ministries Sermon "Storming Hell's Gates"
  2. Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics
  3. SERMON DATE AND TITLE:20110925: "Storming Hell's Gates"
  4. Item Preview
  5. Storming the Gates of Paradise

If the border is natural, it must not have a history, since despite the realm called natural history, we consider those two terms to describe exclusionary territories. It may have been their homeland, but it was our Eden; we were Adam and Eve, they were just a trailer for another movie.

And the defense of nature has become another semiautomatic weapon in the arsenal of exclusion. To put up a fence is to suggest difference when there is none though there will be , and to draw a border is much the same thing. In recent years, the wall, the guard, and the gate have become increasingly popular devices for maintaining difference, the difference between the garden and the world. They show up on every scale, from the domestic to the national front, and though usually seen separately, it makes sense to look at them together.

Whatever is inside the wall, past the gate, protected by the guard is imagined as some version of Paradise, but Paradise only so long as its separateness is protected. Which means that Paradise is a violent place. Symbolically, they proclaim the same message as the garden, albeit to a different audience: that the goods herein are both coveted and secured. Politically, these gardens seem to be constructed for two distinct audiences: those who are meant to admire the plants and ignore the medallion and those to whom the medallion speaks; the former being a majority audience of friends, neighbors, and those who belong, the latter being those who do not belong and seldom show up, making them something of an imaginary audience.

To a third audience—to me, anyway—the medallion and the garden cancel each other out: what kind of serenity can a garden promising armed guards provide? Often described as an object or a fact rather than a concept, the border is nothing more than a line on a map drawn by war and only occasionally imposed on the actual landscape. It exists largely as a line running through the national imagination now. Sometimes the map is the territory, or at least fuels the territorial imperative.

But since there is no border, armed response is supposed to keep people out of our garden. A lot of immigrants began to die in the desert, too, hundreds every year, and the hunts became in part search and rescue missions, hydrating and cooling down the undocumented, who were dying of heat and dehydration. In Arizona, however, vigilantes began joining the hunt with considerably less empathy than some of the Border Patrol. In his novella Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad depicts his Kurtz living with human skulls as ornaments outside the house deep upriver.

A very crowded garden, withal, not crowded with immigrants but with props and weapons to guard the boundaries of empathy and imagination. IX The fantasy of the nationalist garden wall emerged in as Amendment A, a Sierra Club ballot measure, which for a while that spring threatened to fracture the organization and even the environmental movement. The measure stated that restricting immigration was key to protecting the domestic environment. It implied that immigrants were to blame for the deterioration of the environment, as though those huddled masses were rushing out to buy jet skis and ten-acre Colorado ranchettes, as though sheer numbers alone, rather than habits of consumption and corporate practices, were responsible for degradation of the U.

It reeked of American isolationism—the idea that our garden could be preserved no matter what went on outside its walls, though many ecological issues are transnational: migratory birds, drifting pollutants, changing weather— and it implied that we live in a garden and they do not.

Amendment A was meant to be a kind of garden medallion to be read by politicians as well as potential intruders. It harked back to the unattractive origins of one part of the environmental movement, the Save the Redwoods League. Saving the environment is usually imagined as being inherently moral and apolitical, but neither condition is necessary: think of the greenness of the Nazis postulating their forests as a nationalist landscape and their mountains as an Aryan zone.

Hate and suspicion are not uncommon garden crops. As one of their tactics, supporters of Amendment A urged members of anti-immigration and population-control groups to join the Sierra Club en masse to vote for the measure. Fortunately the proposal lost, but it left in its wake this renewed vision of the United States as a garden that could be sequestered from the world. The winning alternate amendment proposed that drawing such lines between nations and people would alienate important allies in the battle over the real issues.

X Having been blamed for every other sin under the sun, immigrants were now to be scapegoated for our environmental problems as well. The s had seen the rise of the environmental justice movement, which addresses environmental racism—who gets poisoned by dumps and incinerators, among other things—but the mainstream environmental movement is not always so good at the racial politics within its own priorities and assumptions.

The very white-collar premise that nature is where you go for recreation belies the possibility that some people toil in nature or on its agricultural edges and would rather do something less rugged on the weekend. Still, this is a long way from the politics of the anti-immigration activists who attempted an openly hostile takeover of the Sierra Club in the spring of , with three candidates for the March board elections looking to form a majority with some of the more dubious current board members, and with various outside organizations—some clearly racist and white supremacist—encouraging their members to join the club and sway the vote.

Only perhaps it was their boat, but the fact of their being tossed in the ocean had been obliterated; or perhaps they are the ones who row and bail and keep the boat going. XI The vision of a homogenous place overrun by disruptive, destructive outsiders is a better picture of the Sierra Club under siege than the United States in relation to immigration.

We believe that the crisis facing the Club is real and can well be fatal, destroying the vision of John Muir, and the work and contributions of hundreds of thousands of volunteer activists who have built this organization. Discrediting it would drain credit and potency away from much of the movement. And it seems that the goal of these anti-immigration activists has little or nothing to do with the protection of the environment.

After all, the links between immigration and environmental trouble are sketchy at best. XII During the s, the border was always talked about as though it were a tangible landform, a divinely ordained difference. Like the U. The spring of Amendment A, I actually spent several days on the border, or rather in the place where the border is supposed to be: along the lower canyons of the Rio Grande, where the left bank is named Texas and the right bank is Chihuahua.

The river, which divides nothing at all on its long run through New Mexico, has been an international boundary since the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the U. Yet rivers are capricious, and this one has a habit of throwing out oxbows that put some bewildered farmers and their land in a new country. So in the s, the border was designated as the deepest part of the river during the years of the survey, regardless of where the river should go afterward.

Which means that the phantom river of thirty years ago is now the international border—not the most solid object for nationalism to rest upon. The slow river along the banks of which all this life clustered and bloomed was not a boundary but an oasis where the toxins from American agriculture and Juarez maquiladoras mixed indiscriminately.

I was traveling by raft again, and the ornithologist with us would get up at dawn to identify, band, and free the songbirds that she caught in her mist nets. She liked to point out that a lot of them wintered in the tropics of Central America, and so conservation efforts needed to be transnational. Like the front yards of Angelenos, the international border is usually just an expanse with a few threats and armed-response guards scattered along it. Amendment A, it seemed to me there, was wishful thinking, a fantasy that spaces could be truly sequestered, could have happy fates independent of the unhappiness all around.

Which is not to deny that environmental devastation and crime are bad things. They are unquestionably bad. The questions are all about the way they are imagined and addressed. We were camped on the Mexican side of the river, of course, on one of the few spots where a road leads all the way to the river— twelve miles down a long canyon from the nearest ranch. The road was used periodically by people coming to bathe in the springs. It seemed unlikely to be a routine patrol, in this remote place bordered by cliffs. XV On the last day of my journey down the river, a long parade of goats trotting by the dusty riverbank made me think of Ezekiel Hernandez, who lived and died not far upriver, in Redford, Texas.

His story seemed at last to make the ominous ambience of the border real to the people I was traveling with. A high school senior and a U. They claimed that he had threatened them with his. The circumstances, however, make it seem unlikely that he ever even saw the marines. Who knows why they shot him, except that he looked like a Mexican, a stranger in the garden? But the dead young goatherds are on the other side, not of the border, but of the cult.

After all, it was Cain who was the gardener. Gardens are portrayed as serene spaces, but perhaps it is time for the guards to be incorporated into the iconography of gardens. Besides, Mexicans are less interested in moving into locations remote from their fellows. Sometimes the ecology is better preserved south of the border than north of it. Consider the case of the nearly extinct Sonoran pronghorn on the Arizona-Sonora border.

About ten times as many survive on the Mexican side, while on the U. I traveled there too, amid signs warning of live ordnance and the sound of distant bombing operations. XVIII The takeover of the Sierra Club would have succeeded only if the invaders had convinced people to believe again that the border marks a coherent environmental divide. But if you care about stopping immigration, the environment is a touchstone of conventional goodness, or at least of liberalism, you can hide behind.

The poor nonwhite immigrants who are the real targets of this campaign are generally building and cleaning those big houses in remote places and mowing the lawns and fueling up the snowmobiles, but they tend not to own them, or to make the decision to delist an endangered species, or to defund the Superfund cleanup program, or to lower emissions standards.

We elect people to do that, actually. In fact, if sprawl and resource consumption are the immediate threats posed by population growth, then the new immigrants, who live frugally, densely, and often rely on public transport, are a rebuke to the suburban majority in the United States.

Behind the early national parks and wilderness areas was the idea of scenery segregation—that it was enough to save the most beautiful and biotically lush places, a few dozen or hundred square miles at a time.

Sheepfold Ministries Sermon "Storming Hell's Gates"

Now most environmentalists are against big dams and nuclear power, so that the debates are about policy, not just geography. But we can. More and more things come under the purview of environmentalism these days, from what we eat to where our chemicals end up. It seems instead that environmentalism is a cloak of virtue in which anti-immigration activists are attempting to wrap themselves.

XXI And those portrayed as invaders are in fact maintaining the garden. Think Virgil, think wetback georgics. And the desire to secure cheap labor has created an alternative boundary around some of these agricultural gardens, ones that the workers cannot get out of. America was founded on a vision of abundance, enough to go around for all. The great irony of Central Park in its early years was that public money and democratic rhetoric were used to make a place most notable for its concessions to the rich, who promenaded there in carriages, while the poor took to private pleasure gardens where less aristocratic pleasures such as drinking beer and dancing the polka were acceptable.

New York, in this scenario, became pristine nature to be protected. In death, but only in death, did these young Mexicans, Salvadorans, and Guatemalans become Americans. Finally, in return for a blanket forgiveness of Latin American debt, the Yankees are welcomed in, and the DickCheney-look-alike president admits that the United States has been wrong in its environmental and social policy and vows to try to do better.

Army deserters of — whom no one on the north side of the border remembers. What does it mean that once again the deserts are for dying in, under similar circumstances, despite the existence of railroads and highways and refrigeration and air conditioning and airplanes and interstate waterworks? Border Patrol agents spotted it from the air and thought it was a body, Jesus as an unsuccessful border crosser, a dead alien.

They launched a rescue attempt and retrieved the statue, which no one subsequently claimed as lost property. It was regarded by Catholics in the area as a message from God. On the south side of the border, in Piedras Negro, the statue was regarded as the Christ for the undocumented. Who forgot to build anything for the service sector, even though those workers more than anyone keep a city running? In recent years, radical architects have begun to question and jettison those decisions.

At its most provocative, this opening up is a series of challenges to borders and categories, and its most inspired practitioner might be architect Teddy Cruz. This invisible city is made of height limitations, setbacks [the rules about how far back from the property line you can build], zoning regulation that is very discriminatory.

So what came to be my interest is what I call urbanism beyond the property line. To do this, architects have to cross the property line and venture into public space, and then cross still another divide. A supreme expression of the enthusiastic mix of Mission Revival and Alhambra fantasia that characterized much prewar California architecture, its buildings form a hollow square with, of course, parking at its center.

The work of installing two tractor-trailer beds and building a tented structure and AstroTurf lounge area was relatively easy; getting permission to do so was not. Or the reinvention of the whole urban fabric. At forty-three, Cruz is dapper, sturdily built but somehow slight, perhaps from nervous energy, elliptical in his rapid speech, passionate in his enthusiasms, and usually running late. Somehow, as we traverse both sides of the border this Sunday, I begin to feel like Alice being rushed along by the White Rabbit, though the rabbit in this case is not so white.

Born and raised in Guatemala City and brought to San Diego at age twenty by his stepfather, Cruz has been here contending ever since with suburbia, sprawl, real estate booms, the border, and other contingencies of contemporary California. The crowded, chaotic richness and poverty of Guatemala City instilled in him a permanent enthusiasm for density of both buildings and activities.

The fatherless son of the proprietor of a fashionable nightclub, he grew up middle-class in the bustle of a third world city, graduated from high school, and planned to become a doctor until a fellow student took him to see a corpse dissected. Squeamish, he backed off from the plan.

An aptitude test established architecture as an alternative. But what decided the matter for him was the sight of a fourth-year architecture student sitting at his desk at a window, drawing and nursing a cup of coffee as rain fell outside. Cruz moved as soon as he got his BA in architecture, leaving the overstimulation of Guatemala City for the anomie of the brandnew San Diego suburb of Mira Mesa. I saw that it was incredibly ordered; I thought that it was very nice.

It can get to you, that relentless kind of sameness. Somewhere in there, he got married and had a daughter, now eighteen; eventually got divorced; started his own practice; and began to teach. He also got married again, to the landscape architect Kate Roe, and had two more daughters, now nine and four. In the end, he had to start from scratch, looking not just at what could be built but at how to reinvent the conditions in which architects work. His PowerPoint presentations are things of beauty, zooming from maps of the world to details of children at play, combining computer-generated images, architectural models, his lush collages, photographs of buildings, streets, and aerial views.

They leave crowds exhilarated and ready to change the world. But his most important function may be as a visionary, an exhortatory voice. Another of his innovations is to focus on traditionally overlooked people and spaces. Well, they live in the inner city.


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It is not a coincidence, then, that the territory that continues to be ignored is the inner city. Cruz cherishes human interactions, and none of his designs or critiques overlooks how people actually inhabit buildings and spaces. At his parking-lot transgression for InSite in Balboa Park, Cruz is delighted that some teenagers broke in after hours to hang out in the pavilion, without damaging anything; their desire to use the space was a real measure of success to him.

He proposes that rather than measure density by the number of dwellings or residents per square block, we measure it by the number of interactions—the more the better. With goals like this, the solutions stop looking like ordinary architecture. Strangely, there is no parking nor any people—the area by the stadium feels deserted.

Or almost no people. We pass a woman wearing headphones and waving a giant sign advertising condos—a common sight in this real estate boomtown. The green space in front of the stadium that was supposed to be a public park has been surrounded by fencing and annexed by the sports corporations, Cruz points out, another wall he is indignant about.

I feel a lot more charged. I cannot help but want to escape that kind of sterility in San Diego and then embrace this, what you might call chaos. The sight of the pharmacies whets our appetite for something livelier than this abandoned zone, and so we drive south on I-5 to another parking lot—this one a short walk from the militarized carnival zone that is the border.

And with that, all the rules are about to change, which is part of why Cruz brings people across so often. There you can see difference, see the innovativeness born out of poverty and its sometimes exuberant results. Somehow the very texture changes when you leave San Diego for Tijuana. Cruz decides on a detour, and suddenly we leave behind the gringo-commodities zone to join a mostly Mexican crowd. Men and women, walking in a large group, are chanting angrily and carrying placards we cannot read from behind.

They march down the middle of the street, and cars and trucks in the one remaining lane honk in solidarity. Street and sidewalk are crowded and bustling. On an earlier tour, he took me to see the small houses salvaged from San Diego as an alternative to demolition, homes that had themselves emigrated across the border. The improvised architecture of Tijuana delights him, the homes built piecemeal and the retaining walls made out of tires, the squats and guerrilla housing that Mexico, with a very different attitude toward real estate rights, often allows to become neighborhoods of legitimate homeowners.

Just past it is the international border, the new fence being put in, a row of deceptively open-looking, off-white vertical strips that look less brutal but are also more forbidding than the corrugated metal landing pads from the Gulf War that were erected in the early s a recycling suggesting that this too is a war zone. The border has grown steadily more massive and more militarized over the past two decades. Such shifts in scale are a big part of his language and worldview; he is as interested in the borders that govern the single-family home as those that divide two nations on one continent.

Another is the abrupt line where two worlds meet—or rather where one world presses forward and the other shrinks back. Even the ecology has become different on each side. Mexicans emigrate north with or without papers; Americans who work in San Diego have moved south to buy affordable waterfront homes on the other side, an American dream no longer in America; California as a whole becomes more and more Latino, with Latinos due to become the majority population in the next decade; and by some accounts 40 percent of the San Diego workforce lives south of the border.

Tiendas selling Mexican washtubs and other goods show up in San Diego, while U. This reading of the border lets Cruz think about the two great forces of globalization and privatization in relation to everyday life. Privatization as the spatial and psychological withdrawal from the public sphere and the collective good that accompanies an ideology of individualism and free enterprise. And perhaps a counter to privatization in the reinvigorated sense of public life and public space that sometimes comes with Latino immigrants. And then there is the subdivision in Tijuana we went to look at one day, a strange grid of miniaturized single-family homes plopped like a carpet on a rolling landscape.

Each home had a driveway out front, but there was not enough room for them to be freestanding; instead they pressed against each other in long rows. Such customization also happens in non-Latino American neighborhoods, he agrees; it is more because this is where his roots are that he comes back again and again to the world south of the border—that and the fact that what the United States is getting from Mexico and from Latinos is highly politicized now. From the bus protest, we go on to wander through a mercado, a cluster of small open shops under one barnlike roof.

We had jumped on the bus hoping it would move faster than the thousand or so pedestrians winding away out of sight on the sidewalk, inhaling the bus fumes, and mostly ignoring the peddlers of lamps and churros and other trinkets. A black man sits imperturbably with sunglasses on in the dim bus.

These are not the people who have rediscovered the city, the people for whom downtowns are being redeveloped, nor are they suburbanites. And he is indignant both that so many are stuck at this border this afternoon and that the border has been built with a disregard for the needs of people with lives on both sides. This is one of those in-between zones that preoccupy him.

In these neighborhoods, multi-generational households of extended families shape their own programs of use. Latino immigrants are confronted with a labyrinth of laws, regulations and prejudices that frustrate, even criminalize, their attempts to build vibrant neighborhoods. One is titled Living Rooms at the Border. This suggests a model of social sustainability for San Diego, one that conveys density not as bulk but as social choreography.

After seeing Cruz present the project, San Francisco landscape architect and city activist Jeffrey Miller commented that Cruz is designing spaces similar in some ways to the old courtyard housing projects that failed in the inner city, and that if this one works, it will be as much because the Latino residents inhabit that space differently as because the scale is far more humane.

Teddy, on the other hand, is not simply politically dedicated, but he is able to produce tremendous innovations from the very exigencies with which he deals. Marvelous things can happen at the intersection of modernity and conscience. Living Rooms at the Border is part of a larger scheme by Casa Familiar, spearheaded by Skorepa and architect David Flores, to create a community that works. San Ysidro is an immigrant community. They are also seeking to get density ordinances waived so that people can build or legalize the already built second and third units on their property.

The structure addresses two often overlooked facts: that seniors frequently care for their grandchildren and need spaces that accommodate the young, and that the young and old have in common a need for secure spaces for socializing, playing, and walking—safe from cars and from crime. Twenty housing units will open onto a communal garden promenade, with frontages that can either be opened up for informal socializing or closed down for privacy.

A childcare facility can be used by both seniors and children and adapted at times to other community uses. The projects grew in part out of a series of community meetings about how spaces could be designed and how they are designed. For community members who were not familiar with the language of planning, moveable three-dimensional models were set up so they could see how many ways a given space could be used to open up or close down access, accommodate many or few. These two projects will house perhaps a hundred to a hundred and twenty people, but architect and developer see them as prototypes to argue for another urbanism, one that opens up how we live.

But if you want to know who picked up the bill, look in a mirror. By , California gold miners had extracted When you tour the museums of the Gold Country, as the Sierra Nevada foothills are still called, you see children dressing up in historical costumes and playing at panning for gold—but it might be more educational for them to play at testing for clean water, imitating mercury-poisoning madness, reading a corporate prospectus, or conducting a wildlife survey.

For the Native inhabitants of the Mother Lode region, whose sustenance depended on an intact ecology, the Gold Rush was Armageddon. For the survivors, it spelled the quick destruction of their culture and habitat. Even the mostly boosterish Gold Country museums acknowledge that the Gold Rush was an atrocity for the local environment and those whose lives were intertwined with it.

At the museum of the Mariposa Historical Society near Yosemite, hand-lettered texts record that a miner panning in a stream could work about a cubic yard of earth a day. Greed and a constantly diminishing ratio of gold to ore prompted new technologies that allowed more and more earth to be worked over with less labor and thus made lower-grade deposits worth working. As the technologies became more elaborate, the capital costs increased, and the era of the miner as rugged individualist rapidly gave way to the era of corporate operations and distant investors.

If mining was a war on the earth, the heavy artillery arrived when hydraulic mining was invented in the early s. Its high-pressure water cannons allowed mining operations to wash away gravel, earth, hillsides, whole landscapes at a hitherto unimaginable rate. By , a total of 4, miles of canals ran through the Gold Country.

A wilderness had been turned into an outdoor factory; rivers into washing machines, conveyor belts, and drains; hills into holes; forests into plumbing supplies. Of this, 1. The rivers en route rose far more dramatically. The Sacramento rose an average of 7 feet. The town of Marysville, which once sat securely above the Yuba and Feather rivers, began to build levees that rose higher than the housetops, as the rivers rose higher than the streets, but in a torrent of toxic mud buried the town.

Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics

The Yuba was at one point feet above its original bed and is still 65 feet higher than it was in No one took much account of the mercury used in gold mining, but about 7, tons of it— The Gold Rush is still poisoning the Golden State. Until recently, gold was the measure of value for all other things, perhaps because it is exceedingly stable and relatively scarce.

Gold was money, and money in its material form was gold, the fulcrum between the concrete world of things and the abstraction that is the exchange value of things. Gold was an anchor for national economies, the basis for their currency. Until , higher-denomination U. The scramble by nations such as Australia and Britain to sell off much of their gold reserves has contributed to the rapid decline in gold prices in recent years. Unlike most other extractive-industry products such as oil, gold has little practical use: of the 4, tons used worldwide each year, about 85 percent goes into jewelry.

How do you weigh gold against a whole landscape? It is all this that was being traded in for gold then and, on the other side of the Sierra Nevada, is still being traded in now. In this method, pulverized ore is heaped up in huge sloping mounds atop a plastic liner, and cyanide solution is poured through it. The solution carries much of the gold with it as it runs off, and the gold is extracted from the poisonous solution. Gold is now mined on a scale none of those men in the sepia-tone photographs could have imagined, from ore far more low-grade than they could have considered worthwhile.

The Mary Harrison mine, which opened in in Coulterville, near Yosemite, yielded about one-third to one-half an ounce of gold per ton. Its pit is now 1, feet deep, a mile wide, and a mile and a half long. From hydraulic mining then to cyanide heap-leach mining now, more and more land and water are disrupted and polluted for every ounce of gold. Because much of the ore contains other heavy metals, excavating it, breaking it up and watering it, or making it accessible to rain and other natural water sources make it a potent contaminant. Often ore contains sulfur, an element that forms sulfuric acid when exposed to air and water.

Sulfuric acid thus formed is called acid mine drainage: it draws the heavy metals—including arsenic, antimony, lead, mercury—out with it into the environment.

SERMON DATE AND TITLE:20110925: "Storming Hell's Gates"

The Paiutes are working on getting Superfund designation for the site. One way to describe modern gold mines is to say that they are displacing earth and water on a gargantuan scale and producing and dispersing toxins in smaller quantities, with gold a proportionally minute by-product of this disruption.

Though Nevada is the driest state in the union, the slender Humboldt River meanders nearly four hundred miles west from its beginnings in the northeast corner of the state. Springs and mountain streams feed the river, and the region is blessed with huge aquifers not far below the surface of the earth—but eighteen of the large mines in the Humboldt region are working below this water table.

Local springs, streams, and parts of the Humboldt River may dry up. The water table will be radically rearranged. I asked Myers why most of the anti-mining activists are working in places like Washington and Montana, when most of the gold mining is in Nevada. Another endangered subspecies, the Lahontan cutthroat trout, lives in the Humboldt River and in two other rivers, though in the Carson and Truckee rivers it has interbred with introduced trout species. Pronghorn still range in the more remote places—but mining is doing in those more remote places, too.

Of course, the question of whose land it really is has yet to be settled. One oft-neglected fact about the California Gold Rush is that it took place on land that still legally belonged to its resident tribes. For thousands of years in this area, there had been nothing but sagebrush grassland and open space, through which any creature might move freely; and even a few years back, when I worked as a land rights activist with the Western Shoshone, it was open space threatened by nothing worse than a few cows.

Now its expanse is dominated by steep slopes of waste rock piles and fenced-off cyanide leach heaps, thousands of feet long and hundreds high, mounds that mean an equally large hole exists nearby. Black pipes lead into the distance, where a grid of rectangular recharge ponds gleams—the mine pumps about 13, gallons per minute to get under the water table.

But mining means that not merely the ownership but the very survival of the land is now at stake. To me, to pump water like that for the sake of gold. How do you control that? How do you deal with underground contamination? To me water is a gift of life. To value gold over water is to value economy over ecology, that which can be locked up over that which connects all things.

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A few newly bulldozed embankments were all that kept the acid out of beautiful Willow Creek, which runs between the two sides of the mine. A scientist had told Chris that when the acid was still running down the mining road into the stream, the road was full of dead earthworms, and the stream was dying. Parched with thirst and surrounded by gold, he begged the god Bacchus to take back his gift. The story was a little complicated in parts. With Michaels brothers not wanting to help him and then they did.

Waiting until the final pages before we found out the significance of what Draco was. I loved their story.

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Both working to be together, fighting both Heaven and Hell. Plenty of Lu in this story as well. Its a shame that it was the loast in th The story of Michael and Draco. Its a shame that it was the loast in the series. May 25, V rated it really liked it. This is my favorite from the series, however, I'm also disappointed that we never find out what happen with Gabriel and his Bruggata or with the rest of the brothers. Oct 18, Traci rated it really liked it. The last of the series, or so it seems, they could totally continue with Gabriel is she wants I would like..

Typical, Draco does not believe he deserves Michael until he deals with his past, the other mix of brothers Lu's brothers especially Kael. Draco was created for Michael to fight with him so that Michael would have a better understanding about humans. The other brothers are jealous that Michael has a The last of the series, or so it seems, they could totally continue with Gabriel is she wants The other brothers are jealous that Michael has a Bruggata and they do not..

A lot of misunderstanding and jealousy drives Draco on a self-deprecating path. To win or be worthy of Michael's love, he has to learn to forgive himself and realize his self-worth. The story is another great novella. I can honestly tell you that I will not think about gardening or lettuce the same way again This is my FAVE book of the series!!

My favorite thing about this book is Michael's growth as a person, going from Michael, the Archangel to Michael. View 2 comments. I'm not really sure why I enjoyed this story so much. It was bizarre but it was also ingenious and imaginative. The couple, Michael and Draco, were terrific together and I enjoyed the secondary characters immensely. I didn't realize it was book 4 in a series but I now may go back and read the other stories because those characters appeared in this one and I'm really interested in their backgrounds. So sad it's over This was the final story in the series.

Michael and Draco. It was an excellent ending to a really enjoyable series. Archangels and humans, heaven and hell. Well written, great characters, I am sad it's done. I really like this Author, she writes stories and creates characters we come to care about. Nov 01, ReviewerLarissa rated it liked it Shelves: m-m-books , m-m-paranormal-romance. I like the book, though it remains weird to read a story such as this one with archangels. It sure had an original thouch. The only thing I didn't like were the few inconsistencies in the story and how the last part of the previous book was not adressed.

Nov 30, Karen K rated it really liked it Shelves: carol-lynne , ebook-owned , gay-series-or-related , gay-angels , gay-demons , gay-drama , gay-first-time , gay-hurt-comfort , gay-romance , gay-vampires. Good 4th book in The City series. I liked Michael immediately - his passion, his strength and his commitment to Draco.

Didn't think I'd enjoy this series as much as I am but can't wait for the next book. Recommended to Sev by: saw it on a romance list somewhere but can't remember which. Was a couple years ago.

Storming the Gates of Paradise

Shelves: favorites , m-m , angel-demon-romance. Loved it! This has to be one of my favorite ever series and I only hope some day the author revisits The City so I can see what Luc and the Boys have been up to lately. Mar 23, D rated it really liked it Shelves: angels , demon-lord , demons , paranormal-supernatural , paranormal-sex , possessive-lil-thing-aint-ya , plays-well-with-his-food , outdoor-sex. Aug 13, Nicole rated it liked it Shelves: paranormal , romance.

I felt really bad that Michael and Draco didn't happen the way it was supposed to. That's so sad. But they were very sweet together and at least they still get their happy ending. Aug 20, Cori rated it really liked it. She goes into the subject of the history of names and how often Native American history is consistently on the verge of being erased: "There is a great incongruity in the names of men upon the land, for these rogues and bureaucrats are too recent and prosaic to convey the benediction of saints, heroes, gods. Instead of the certainties of mythology, they convey—to those who know the history of the names—turbulence, economics, ambition, and brutality.

In Europe, white people are indigenous, and they are often named after places. Some Anglo-Americans were named Winchester after the English cathedral town, and so were some eastern U. When places are named after men and not the other way around, people become more real and permanent than land. It encouraged me to get into landscape photography, which she discusses in a few essays at the beginning of the book.

She's introduced me to so many landscape photographers, books, and activists who have done so much for the environment. The biggest criticism I have with this book is the use of the term "disabled" in the essay "Seven Stepping Stones down the Primrose Path". I understand that being "conceptually disabled" due to people believing they always need mechanical assistance in order to get around is a thing, but I wish the author could've delved in to the politics of disability and landscape.

She acknowledges in her other book, "Wanderlust", that "If walking is a primary cultural act and a crucial way of being in the world, those who have been unable to walk out as far as their feet would have not been denied merely exercise or recreation but a vast portion of her humanity. Not everyone is able to walk, or run, or go sight-seeing as often as others can. I would've loved for this to be discussed more, especially since it's central to her idea: "When I wrote about walking, I learned that one version of home is everything you can walk to. Each essay compliments each other beautifully, and her writing is full of profound meaning.

I enjoyed this book a lot and will be revisiting it often. It has really shown me the best of Rebecca Solnit's writing skills, even after I was absolutely convinced after reading her memoir, "The Faraway Nearby", she is equally the amount of genius on her nonfiction writing about the environment. Nov 22, blue-collar mind rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: anyone who is in the battle for their home. Shelves: super-classics. Good news. Help is here. I was handed this book in the author's home city of San Francisco at the City Lights bookstore in by a bookseller who had noted that I lived in New Orleans; as he handed it to me from the new book area, he shared that Solnit was actually in New Orleans, researching.

I have to confess that upon hearing that, I rolled my eyes at another outside voice come to tell our story but after leafing through it, I bought it anyway and went back to my quiet hotel and read it thr Good news. I have to confess that upon hearing that, I rolled my eyes at another outside voice come to tell our story but after leafing through it, I bought it anyway and went back to my quiet hotel and read it through and was glad I did and glad she was there to report on our trouble.

I have now read many more bits of Solnit's writing, but as a survivor so far of the politics of Katrina, I am still dazzled by her lucidity and fearlessness in this book to define what the battle is really about. To write about culture and politics without reverting to emotional finger-pointing or to cliches to analyze the thrilling and frightening American empire-building mindset is quite a feat, and Solnit did it here as no one else was doing then and has fulfilled that promise in other books since.

That really is her gift: to share the news that yes, we've got to storm dem gates but paradise community, as achieved through citizen action, gender expression, and place could be just beyond. She also asks us to consider that in order to understand what we have to do and what is really happening, we must strike out on our own at times to explore all facets of the landscape and not simply march in formation.

To illustrate what she means she offers Thoreau's overnight stay in that prison as an example of that style of citizenship since whether living in the woods or running a pencil factory he was connected to beauty, humanity and to protest. This book is the beginning of her best era so far on culture, politics, and place and so should be collected for that reason. By now, more people have heard about her and read her, but if you haven't, maybe don't start with this.

If you are already a radical or simply a citizen full of anger but lack facts, I'd say start with Savage Dreams or Hollow City or with a slightly later book that is personally meaningful to me as it analyzes exactly what happened in post New Orleans and other post-disaster places with their exuberant community and pitiful politics, A Paradise Built in Hell. This one I suggest you hold on and read later on a quiet trip or while sitting on a porch at a lake or on a train heading across the US; this is a wide-ranging set of writings that give a reader an excellent overview of Solnit's ability to essay and to connect social and natural issues, small and large, current and historical in her graceful, lucid style.

It will round out your own ability to connect the dots that need to be connected. Take your time with it. Nov 21, Cheryl rated it really liked it Shelves: feeding-the-learning-hunger. Solnit is a hero to me; she defines what activism can mean and accomplish. I read these essays, and I get the message: not all you do will change the world dramatically, but you have to at least care, at least FEEL some sort of passion for the planet we live on, and then do something about it!

I have never been willing to be arrested for protesting, but I imagine I might be on a FBI list for emails against Bush's policies Her main focus is envi Solnit is a hero to me; she defines what activism can mean and accomplish. Her main focus is environmentalism, but she writes about the antislavery movement, immigrant rights, and protests against the evils of capitalism with the same focus and clarity. Besides that, she is a great, great writer.

With Solnit, there are always coincidences in my own life that make me even more in awe of what she has to say. For example, one night I had a crazy dream of a tsunami, and the next morning, over breakfast, I read her essay, Sontag and Tsunami We cannot wish that human beings were not subject to the forces of nature, including the mortality But the terms of that nature include such catastrophe and suffering, which leaves us with sorrow as not a problem to be solved but a fact.

And it leaves us with compassion as the work we will never finish. The German shuddered, the Dutch were equivocal, the Brit said he was "comfortable" with Britain, the expatriate American said no. And I said yes. Driving across the arid lands, the red lands, I wondered what it was I loved.

Beyond that, for anything you can say about the United States, you can also say the opposite: we're rootless except we're also the Hopi, who haven't moved in several centuries; we're violent except we're also the Franciscans nonviolently resisting nucelar weapons out here; we;re consumers except the West is studded with visionary environmentalists I had that same conversation in Zurich with expat American friends, native Swiss, a German, and a Spaniard.

We had just walked by the poster with a picture of George W. Bush in Swiss German and they translated it as "Wanted for crimes against humanity; considered armed and dangerous. That is part of what makes up a country also, its geography and landscapes, not just its terrible politics and foreign policies. I have been in awe of all the constellations I have been seeing lately here in Denver, Orion and the Pleiades are amazingly bright right now; another little convergence with Solnit and her esay about constellation as metaphor: "The desire to go home that is a desire to be whole, to know where you are, to be the point of intersection of all the lines drawn through all the stars, to be the constellation-maker and the center of the world, that center called love.

To awaken from sleep, to rest from awakening, to tame the animal, to let the soul go wild, to shelter in darkness and blaze with light, to cease to speak adn be perfectly understood. This is not a quick and easy read, but not because it is bad; indeed, it took me longer to read than I would have wished because others kept putting holds on it and I would have to get a copy from another library! Still, I read it slowly, because it is one of those books that you want to read slowly and digest and you find yourself thinking about the issues Solnit raises and wanting to thoroughly commit them to memory before moving on.

Solnit tackles favorite subjects of hers and mine here: pe This is not a quick and easy read, but not because it is bad; indeed, it took me longer to read than I would have wished because others kept putting holds on it and I would have to get a copy from another library! Solnit tackles favorite subjects of hers and mine here: pedestrianism, urban environmentalism, homelessness, and politics, among many other topics. C, I think you would totally love the way she writes about activism, especially her non-violent resistance which sometimes led to her arrest in Seattle, Miami, and the Republican National Convention in NYC.

All thoughtfully drawn and excellently researched and written. She has always been a favorite Orion columnist, and has become one of my favorite non-fiction writers. And I do love her writing. Some of these essays are great and others are very dense, dated or otherwise didn't really hold my interest.


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Feb 07, Vendela rated it really liked it. Solnit is always an incredibly read. She is stellar when discussing the early environmental activists of California and the US, even more stellar and affecting when getting into anti-war activism, and even when I disagree with her I can do so intelligently, carrying on the discussion begun by the essay in my head. When she's wrong, she's wrong in a way I can most often respect aside from her very occasional forays into elitism that makes her both dismiss the internet and come off as, well, elit Solnit is always an incredibly read.

When she's wrong, she's wrong in a way I can most often respect aside from her very occasional forays into elitism that makes her both dismiss the internet and come off as, well, elitist - but this only happens two or three times in a page book , and I also highly appreciate the way she doesn't gloss over failings of icons like Friedan, even when her essay is focusing on what Friedan's work initiated in terms of social change and activism.

In short: this is bright, conscientious, and deeply empathetic work. Highly recommended, particularly the first 6 sections of the book and the last, her love song to San Francisco. Moreover, this is a book that is deeply conscious of the dark portions of America's past, as she devotes a large section to her discussion of nature as public space to the struggle of Native Americans to regain the rights to what should be their land or prevent new injustices to be done to it.

Solnit's work spans three hundred years, two or three continents, and countless activists and writers, starting with Thoreau and ending in the racist so-called urban renewal projects of the s and 60s. I love the way she talks about activism, with hope and empathy It's possible to do both, to talk about trees and justice and in our time, justice for trees ; that's part of what Thoreau's short jaunt from jail to hill says. She is a remarkable writer, too: Metaphors matter.