Reviewed by Pierce Butler in Voice of the Turtle, 5/ 24/ 84 at the First North American Bioregional Congress
The Siskiyou Mountains came to the heartland prairies Wednesday night – they glowed, they swam, they leaped and sang and told long stories without a beginning or an end. With a little help from a white cape and a series of intimate slides, Judy Goldhaft started Planet Drum Foundation’s roaming declaration of Northern-Californiana with a dance to, for, and of, lush Pacific rim highlands country: “Albedo Moon. ”
The Great, Awesome, World-Shattering Richter 6. 2 Earthquake of May ’84 came to the Missouri River watershed Wednesday night, striking terror into the hearts of everyone who wasn’t there. Peter Berg’s alternate headline for the media: “Fun Earthquake In Northern California. Residents Thoroughly Enjoyed It.” Berg celebrated his home city’s underground weather, represented by a piece of serpentine which had the foresight, 60 million years ago, to begin a trek along the west coast tectonic plate to where the San Francisco peninsula now resides, leaving Diablo Canyon one geological step ahead of the arrival of “the last nuclear power plant.” Along the way, Berg illuminated the inner meanings of bioregional jargon, “from the mysterious ‘reinhabitation’ to the notorious ‘future primitive,'” and pondered aloud the paradox of how a region can let- another region handle its thinking about where it lives, leaving it nowhere at all when the Magical Mind of the Mighty Media turns its halfwit attention elsewhere.
The wildlife of downtown San Francisco came to the central plains Wednesday night, escorted by Nancy Morita, carving new/old niches in the concrete canyons of the Golden City. When the earliest explorers from Europe came visiting the Petlenuc, Sitlintahc, and Chutchui peoples, the latter groups were unaware that they were dwelling respectively (and no doubt respectfully) in the Golden Gate Park, financial district and industrial zones of the future metropolis; yet they did know that seabirds of more than 100 species blackened the sky with a collective wingbeat like thunder when they took to the foggy air.
Now the loamy soil supports townhouses and skyscrapers like the so-called Transamerica Pyramid, an artificial assembly of calcium and sand “like a riverbed rising vertically.” The tule elk and condor, the Grizzly bear and coast rock cress and blue whale are gone, and the creeks flow hidden through storm sewers buried in the serpentine. Yet Morita has a plan, to bring the streams back in downtown parks, to clear a space for sea lions along the shore, to restore peregrine falcons to nest in the high banking offices and prey upon pigeons, perhaps even to awaken the populace to recognition of the native bioregion’s own reinhabitation efforts. There’s more than a passing chance this may come to pass – brown pelicans can now be spotted by the keen-eyed around the city, where their extinction had loomed close not too many seasons gone.
The salmon came to the North American Bioregional Congress in Camp Doniphan Wednesday night, the sweet mad rowdy rhythmic shaggy lust-fired Salmon: Manifesting through Bob Carroll, possessing members of the Congress with the eternal, irresistible obsession to return, to return, to return “To the SPAWNING GROUNDS! ! ! II Taking everyone in sight along, the salmon’s R-rated epic odyssey whirled from tiny translucentorange-gold eggs (the size, perhaps, of buckshot or suchlike, deep in the gravel beds of … the SPAWNING GROUNDS!) along a perilous motion-to-the -ocean, around the Grand Tour of the specific North Pacific, the endlessly revolving, rotating species celebration of the Salmon nation, following the inarguable programming of the circuit printed into slick sleek salmon designed-genes, and back, back, from the saltwater to the fresh, from below the sea to high sunny mountains, through transformation of the flesh and climax of the spirit, past the same old routine familiar mortal hazards of fryhood, along the slippery sloppy sizzling synchrony of the dance of female and male, back to those geloid spheroid ovoids down in the cool dark pebbles of the deadly, the beloved, the archetypal SPAWNING GROUNDS!!!
The “Not for Tourists” program of the Planet Drum Foundation, smoothly and aptly emceed by Lori Brooke, came to all who would come to it Wednesday night, and who of us who experienced it will ever be the same?
. . Bioregional Congress Proceedings
. May 21-25, 1984
Copyright © 1984, New Life Farm, Inc.
Printed in the Ozark Bioregion