Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Business card holders ready for sanding, then finish.
Life is a multi-disciplinary endeavor. They say that the pen is mightier than the sword, and there are folks poised to take things from us in writing, that have real impact. A mark with a pen can launch chainsaws and bulldozers cutting through real forests. Consciously divide the hand from the power of the mind, or the mind from the power of the hand, and you've set civilization on the path of self destruction.

Last week I gave a short talk to the Clear Spring High School students explaining to them how important it is to learn to read and fully digest non-fiction material, as it is through the use of words that lawyers can take from us all that we own and keep us from being able to insure the quality of our lives for generations to come.

The kids that read these days read fiction, and parents count themselves lucky at that. Some choose to read nothing longer than a tweet. Too few are getting deeply engaged in non-fiction materials that require any intellectual effort in their digestion. I guess the idea is for reading to be fun, and that reading is to be avoided if it requires effort, but it's in wading through real work, reading things that bore us, that the quality of our lives can be preserved.

What I am referring to is the current effort by SWEPCO to take away properties (including my own) to push a super highway of electric power through some of the most beautiful forested terrain in America. Last night, we made a pitch to the local city council and garnered a resolution against the project, and this week I hope to have a guest editorial in one of our local newspapers.

By reading engineering reports, I've discovered that the proposed line is not to serve our local populace as claimed, but is a kind of interstate highway for the distribution of electric power.

The highest voltage transmission system in Maine operates at 345,000 volts (345 kV), just like the one proposed here. Central Maine Power Company describes their 345 kV lines as the interstate highway system for electricity in Maine, a state with such abundant hydroelectric power that they export a great deal of it to Canada. What size line do they use for that? 345 kV. A new line, 345 kV suspended by poles taller than our oaks, is what they want to put in my back yard, with their right of way passing 75 feet from my deck.

I wanted to point out to my students that they may never die at the end of a sword, but may die a thousand deaths at the point of a pen. And their ability to read through disgusting, convoluted stuff will be a necessity, despite all that we've done to make reading fun. I hope they find themselves ready for the real work of it.

An editor called my own writing style "baroque." I told him that if its baroque, fix it. Sentences can always be cut in shorter lengths for those who are unprepared for the labor of more complex thoughts. But children need to learn to digest complexity, sort things out and defend themselves.

Today in the wood shop, I'm working on small products to fill an order,  to sell through galleries, and at the coming Thea Art Show in Little Rock next Saturday.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mr. Stowe - Just a brief note in non-baroque style (hopefully) to salute you for fighting the electrical company's ploughing through your community's doubtlessly well stewarded property. I've been following this via unpluggedshop.com.

    It is a sad theme in our modern era and I can only say: fight the good fight.

    Where I grew up in the Northwest, my dad and mom allied with a few other farmers in the area to fight the real-estate developers and a logging company in a protracted story. a tremendous amount of hand wringing ensued. we are all permanently scarred from the experience, and I'm not overwriting here, i promise.

    They did manage to get the county to adjust the developer's plans to some extent, and so while it was in no way a "win" in our record, it was better than submitting entirely. Please sally forth and do what you can. Fight the good fight.

    -Adam of Oakland, CA