E.O. Wilson: The Rock Star of Conservation

I have just returned from the keynote lecture in the Nature of Life series sponsored by the Utah Museum of Natural History and The Nature Conservancy. The speaker was Dr. E.O. Wilson, the world-reknowned entemologist, scientist and conservationist that has taken on the taboo task of merging science and religion in the pursuit of a common goal: the preservation of biodiversity around the world.

His lecture was insightful, sprinkled with humor, and surprisingly optimistic. He spoke with certainty not only of the ability for these two seemingly diametrically-opposed forces to join together for the good of the environment, but of our ability to surmount the mind-boggling problems of global warming, loss of biodiversity, and the destruction of our planet.

His most resounding message was just that...his optimism. He firmly stated that no matter the challenge, we are not incapable of halting the destruction or indeed, of reversing some of the damage, if we act quickly and with resolve. He continued by saying that no nation on Earth is more poised and able than ours to take on these challenges.

But first, he said, we must create a cohesive force among the different religious and scientific factions. Dr. Wilson has stepped out from the crowd of scientists and environmentalists: the ones that are crying wolf but refusing to cross the chasm to reach out to the very people who need to be reached the most.

It may be a lonely place, for the time being, but E.O. Wilson stands with resolve and undying optimism that his work will lead to the changes necessary. He refuses to give in to extremist stubbornness that characterizes so many of his colleagues, but instead cavorts with the "enemies" of science in the hope that together, their love of The Creation, no matter their beliefs on how it came to be, will motivate the saving of it.

He called this the "Century of the Environment", and perhaps the most important time for us to focus on the planet and how we have affected it over the years. We can work together to save the places we love most. The places that are not only our most amazing and diverse places, but the most necessary to our survival as a human race. We cannot do it alone, but must embrace those of different backgrounds and beliefs to create the changes necessary. Dr. Wilson has begun this work, and it is my hope that the scientists and Evangelicals he continues to meet with will follow his lead.

Check out the other lectures in the series here.

New Tourism Tagline for Utah!

Why Today is a Good Day

Here's why today is a good day (despite being a mostly bad day):

1- Tomorrow, there will be no legislature to roll my eyes at.

2- Tonight, a great event to see E.O. Wilson live at Kingsbury Hall.

3- Today, giving blood at 1:00 like I promised I would.

4- Currently, it is not snowing, but the snow is still white!

5- My Alma Mater, UVSC, has been given the go-ahead to become Utah Valley University.

6- I do not have class tonight!

What makes today a good day for you?


More Reasons not to visit Kanab

It seems that one developer in Kanab will capitalize on anything, including ancient Anasazi ruins located on a site he plans to develop into 700-800 homes...but he'll preserve 20 acres of open space for an active archealogical dig among the new homes. Does anyone else feel slightly uncomfortable about this?

Ah, to be Ignorant

Schreiner has a great post on Republicans, Bush, and Utah lagging behind on the biggest issue of our time...climate change.


Talk like a Liberal, Walk like a Conservative

The article I have linked to above is from November 30, 2006. I just stumbled across it last week while completing an old list of To-Do's from my boss, one of which was to find this article for him.

I was stunned to read it and thought it deserved a revival here. I wanted you to know how it shook me to the core of my liberalism. No, I am not and never will be a born-again conservative, but I have been forced to consider a few things.

Am I a young idealist? Yes. I dream of a world where the poor and the rich are not quite so far apart, where the environment and the economy can live in harmony, where all humans have all the basic rights afforded to those that were lucky enough to be born into privilege. I am a liberal and have been since I was born. I believe in government's role to help the people, not just govern them. But what am I if I am not willing to do more than just talk about what I believe in?

I do not want to be the brand of liberal that Arthur C. Brooks has discovered most of us are. I don't want to just talk the talk...I want to walk the walk.

Brooks says there are three main areas where liberals really lag behind conservatives: money donated, time donated, and blood donated.

Here's how I plan to address those three areas in my own life:

I believe in gay rights, but rather than sit back and just blog about it, I plan on giving (through workplace giving) $500 to Gay Rights groups this year. I also plan to volunteer...a lot. I serve on the board of a local lesbian group called Swerve, and just this past weekend put in 8-10 hours of volunteer time. I plan on volunteering at Pride this year as well.

I believe in preserving the environment. Besides working at an environmental non-profit every day, I plan to give $200 to groups like The Nature Conservancy and Grist.

I believe in Public radio, so I plan on donating $80.00 to KCPW this year and volunteering for the fund drives.

There are so many other things I believe in, but I want to put my money, time, and blood where my mouth is. So, though I am deathly afraid of needles, I plan on giving blood at least three times this year.

I do not want to be the classic hippy liberal, the one that goes about my own business...live and let live. Perhaps this is the biggest difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives have a sense of duty to their country, their churches, and their peers. They live by a code of etiquette. I want to do that also. I want to have an ideal, a voice, a duty, and a code by which I live and address my fellow human beings.

I want to talk like a liberal, walk like a conservative.


Fighting for the Square

It's personal. I wasn't there, I don't know anyone who was, but that doesn't mean I am not personally affected by the killing spree at Trolley Square. I drive by every morning on my way to work. I visit the Old Spaghetti factory with my wife almost monthly. I frequent Tabula Rasa if only just to look around because I love the feeling of that store.

And this morning, I'm going back. Tabula Rasa is open, and I plan on picking up a few Thank You cards. Tomorrow, my wife and I were planning on going to the Old Spaghetti Factory for a little Valentine's dinner...and our plans remain unchanged.

Because we can't let fear get the best of us. Sure, it's frightening to go on living life. Sometimes it even feels a little disrespectful. But President Bush, shortly after 9/11, was right on one thing: we can't let fear stop us from doing the things we've always done...or else the terrorist/murderer has won.

That's why I have to go back. There's no other way for me to make it right in my own heart and mind. It is my own personal healing process. I have to fight for Trolley Square, so it can feel normal again...so the legacy of the place can outlive the legacy of the killer.


Amaechi Mania

The sad thing is, I'd never heard of the guy before he came out.

But props to him for standing up and being out in the homophobic world of professional sports -- both men's and women's sports.

And then there's his assertion that Salt Lake City is the best gay community east of San Francisco! HURRAH! If that's not taking it to the man, I don't know what is.


Get Out to See It

Last night after class I stumbled back to my car, but to get there I had to walk through the Jewett Center on the campus of Westminster College. I was amazed at what I saw there.

In the lobby and areas surrounding the Emma Eccles Jones Conservatory, there are hundreds of t-shirts in a rainbow of colors, making up a display known across the country as The Clothesline Project.

This stunning display has t-shirts in colors that stand for different kinds of domestic violence: White represents women who died because of violence;
Yellow or beige represents battered or assaulted women;
Red, pink, and orange are for survivors of rape and sexual assault;
Blue and green t-shirts represent survivors of incest and sexual abuse;
Purple or lavender represents women attacked because of their sexual orientation;
Black is for women attacked for political reasons.
I walked around, tears streaming down my face, as I read what survivors had written on their t-shirts: stories of loss, despair, hopelessness....but also, stories of strength, of moving on, of overcoming. It is powerful.

This display is part of a larger event including Westminster's production of "The Vagina Monologues," which I'll be attending this Thursday or Friday proudly wearing my Vagina Warrior t-shirt. Get your information here and get out to see it!


The Gay Agenda Hoax

Troy Williams has penned a fantastic article in the Salt Lake Tribune about the "Gay Agenda", the radical likes of Gayle Ruzick and Chris Buttars, and a few humble kernels of truth that many people should understand.

That's right Gayle, the "Gay Agenda" includes such immoral pursuits as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those of us that you would term "gay activists", such as myself and Mr. Williams, really just want to spend the rest of our lives with someone we love and have what every human being rightfully deserves. So we fight.

But we are not some huge force bent on overtaking the planet, "recruiting" heterosexuals to the "homosexual lifestyle". If anything, I take a look at my GLBT community and wonder why some of them just don't seem to care. Sometimes they seem nascent, too caught up in life to fight for their own rights. Then, I realized...it's because they're too busy living their lives, building partnerships, buying homes, raising children, coming out (often painfully) to friends, family, and strangers every single day to devote any time to seducing the youth of the nation.

I would venture to say we're much more normal than Gayle.