EcoPunk #76

    The summer solstice is a consistent and  perpetual harbinger of change. The days  lengthen and the nights diminish. The  natural lubricants of the forest desiccate as  the dark woods anxiously lie in wait for the  coming orgies of fire that will reset a  hundred years of ecological imbalance. The anadromous fish are returning to their homelands to fuck, spawn and lay the roots for future generations. The birds are teaching their young how to fly while the  deer and elk instruct their young on the subtle details of eating oak leaves and rich  people's gardens. Hell, like the salmon, another generation of crusties has invaded the West on freight trains and adolescent  notions of hope. The symbiotic relationship  between the season's consistency and volatility have once again reached down into my heart and made that callused old muscle go GUG-GUG. Maybe I'm just a woo woo old fucker, but this time of year always  seems to be most potent as far as  potential, possibility and energy goes. So here I am back in Oregon sitting in the Illahae eating fire roasted trout and thinking  about the future. The oldest rocks in the American West are supporting my tired duff while my eyes watch the unadulterated porn of the Illinois and Rogue Rivers  merging in their groaning, writhing dance of crystalline water. I can see dozens and dozens of Oncorhynchus kisutch, Coho salmon, charging their way upstream through ancient canyons to their inevitable sexual doom. Even though I was too impressed by the scarred silver sides of  the road weary fish to sacrifice 'em for my body's needs (three trout met my spear  instead), the salmon profoundly focused  my thoughts on the world and my place in it. The coho salmon has been toeing the line of being an endangered species for  decades now. A combination of habitat loss  (due to dams and irresponsible logging) and commercial overfishing have reduced their populations to mere fractions of what they were when Applegate John led the first  Indian revolt down here. But still, even with  the weight of industrial civilization pushing against them, these stubborn old fish plow  their way back up nameless tributaries they  haven't seen in years. Every time I see a salmon run in effect, I think two things: "Goddamn, Nature is fuckin' amazing" and "Goddamn, these fuckin' fish remind me of  old punks." I just talked to Sasha yesterday. That lovely  man and I, like so many other poorly  tattooed punk fish, have started heading back upstream. After years of rambling  around on trains and non-monogamous binges and futile attempts at revolution in  the great big sea, all we can think of is our homelands. And like with the salmon,  whose flesh is littered with scars and welts from a million and one experiences, we're  lucky we've even made it this far. Just as millions of salmon succumb to sharks and  osprey and redneck fishermen, so have  hundreds of punks met their ends in violence and heroin and other incarnations of the "No future, no hope" lifestyle we adopted back in the days before punk was  political (at least for us). The question now is where we wanna use  our tired old fins to push apart a niche for the future. Sasha has scrubbed himself a  place in New York, combining the promises of organic farming with his ancestral stomping grounds at ABC NO RIO. Me? I'm  out here where I belong in the forests of the Cascade-Klamath bioregion. Now it's just a matter on sweeping my internalized fear and external critics out of the way and getting to work laying the groundwork for the future. And for me, the future is all about  land and forestry. See, I'm a firm believer that those of us who work in the woods are going to inherit the next generation of forest policy. As Bush and his cronies gut what's left of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and finish  trimming all the ecologically useful parts out of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), while simultaneously pumping up federal law enforcement budgets, environmentalists are gonna lose the few precarious handholds they've been using to  fight industry for the last 30 years. Successful direct action in the woods isn't  gonna involve tree sits or blockades, but who can write up the best fire hazard reduction plan and who can meet forest harvest prescriptions in the most  ecologically sensitive manner. Yeah, it ain't  the purist ecology dreamed up by urban  assholes like Arne Naess and regurgitated by kids who can't tell a fir from a pine, but  it's all we're gonna have to work with.  At the same time this direct action forestry will more than likely prove to be the most  effective tool for preserving ecosystems in will be an era of resurrection for the  timber industry, it also fulfills a basic need felt by all of us from poor or working class  families, the need to support ourselves. Wages in the woods for skilled labor are good. On the contract I'm currently working on, the federal minimum wage is $23.80/hr +benefits. I bought the Posi-ship Que Será with $15,000 I made in less than two months doing an eco-logging job. Sure, the work is hard and fucking dangerous, but this kind of wage means the difference between paying rent to some upperclass bastard your whole life or maybe owning your own house or farm. And hell, there  ain't too many places people from these  backgrounds can still be activists while  making a living… There are no shortage of critics in the world for those making their futures in the woods. You'll get upper-class academic quasi-activists who slam you for killing trees when their ignorant ass thinks Mychorrizae is the first Amebix single, just as you'll get upper-class Crimethinc.-ettes telling you that you're a counter-revolutionary 'cuz you don't wanna go to prison for stealing and trespassing. And of course, you'll get a solid scolding from the anarcho-John Birch Society at Green Anarchy magazine for your reformist tendencies. But fuck it. Twenty years from now, these upperclass liars and dreadlocked Robert Borks (slouching towards civilization!) will still have their rich families and trust funds (and piles of useless propaganda), while the rest of us will feel stupid for being duped by their  insincerity. Now is the time to be organizing  for the future by trimming the bullshit out of our present. And we got some really great tools available to us. We got an amazing network  of people all across the world who share  good ideas and bad fashion. We got the  time and liberty to experiment with  cooperatives and collectives. We got  billions of acres of land to work and survive  off. The possibilities are vast and  wonderful, it's just a matter of seeing where  we want to be in the future and starting to  make the plans and actions that can take  us there…
-mike antipathy