Blogging 101

To help all of us blog better, WordPress put together a month long class called- -you guessed it- -Blogging 101. In the best Quaker tradition of “all things in their time,” (or better late than never). The class was in February. It’s now April. Writing is never out of season.

Day 1. Who am I & why am I here? The short answer is because I think I have something to say. I tend to see things from a different perspective. I’ve been a logger for 35 years. There’s a lot of rhetoric in society that says we’re bad people, bent on destroying the environment. I know better. I see life as a spiritual venture. God is not confined to church buildings. I hope to speak to the condition (Quakerspeak. Call me on it if you want.) of people & society. In some sense, then, I have come to own a prophetic voice.

Topics. I’ve been at this since 2013. I write mainly about forestry & faith, but any part of life is fair game. I especially enjoy what I’ll call God’s sense of humor: the apparent quirkiness of life & creation. At least they seem quirky from our perspective. In some sense the absurdity of life is emblematic of disconnect between humanity & God. Maybe I can help you laugh.

Audience: All with ears to hear or eyes to see. An increasing percentage of us live in cities. We’ve never seen a skidder or a forwarder or a harvester except maybe on the History Channel or Ax Men. Ax Men is a parody. If we actually worked like that, there would be no loggers left.

Goals. 1 Corinthians 12 & 13 lay it out for us. We have a variety of gifts. The Apostle Paul describes us as parts of the body of the church. But how will the nose know what the left big toe thinks & experiences if the toe never communicates that. 

Day 4. Who’s my ideal audience? As noted above, anybody who will listen. Most especially, though, I want to reach two people. One owns forest land. The other lives in a city and cares a great deal about the environment.

The one who owns forest land likely doesn’t own it for the production of income through intensive timber management. Penn State research found that the #1 reason for owning forest land was solitude. That’s right. A place of peace and respite from the turmoil of modern life. Solitude is in good company, closely followed by recreation, and wildlife watching. Harvesting timber is near the bottom of the list. I have speculated (based on years of experience) ¬†that maybe as high as 90% of landowners would self-identify as “environmentalists,” even with the stigma that the term carries in rural culture.

So the question is why so many people who profess to care about the environment do things that are in opposition to that statement. Likely the #1 cause is surprise. Some guy knocks on the door and says “I’ll give you $50,000 for your trees.” The landowner thinks holy !!@#$%!!. Found money. Where do I sign? I want to speak to that person before the guy knocks on the door. Please, please, please, get a forest management plan. Then you’ll know what you have, and whether this is the right time to harvest. You’ll know that “those trees” are worth more. Or that there’s not adequate regeneration. Or that “cut the best and leave the rest” is really going to trash the real reasons you own land.

And to you who live in the city, I want you to know that forests aren’t as simple as some organization’s crisis-based fund raising campaign might make them sound. Our forests do face threats. They are not the ones that environmental organizations focus on. Here are 2 examples.

Should logging be allowed on Federal lands? Sierra club, Rainforest Alliance and a host of other organizations would have us believe that these lands should be reserves. I’d agree. They say these lands belong to them, and not to “the logging companies.” I’d say “Nyeh. They belong to all of us.” Beware of categorical imperatives: never, or no. Opposing logging on public lands smacks of irony. Public lands are arguably the best managed in terms of sustainability.

Second example: Clearcutting is bad.The goal of forestry is to mimic nature. Sometimes all of the trees in an area are blown down or die from disease. Nature does clearcuts. The analogy I like is this: if you wanted to change a sparkplug, you’d need a particular wrench or socket. If you tried to use a screwdriver, your efforts would fail. Beware of categorical imperatives.

There are far more of you living in cities than there are out here in the sticks. You influence public policy, if only by sheer numbers. As they say about data & computers: garbage in, garbage out. For you, dear friends, I hope to provide another side to the story than the one that shows up in your mail or on TV.

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