The Old West is Waiting

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stealhead, river running, and hay farming as far as an eye can see

The dirt road winds down the mountain into Troy, Oregon on the Grande Ronde River. Size of community is a mere handful of good souls. Groceries fetched by driving 50 miles north to Lewiston, Idaho.

The outpost captures my interiors yearning for serenity, solitude and majesty. Troy has all of this.

One of many way stations on my journey to the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival; we stopped along our drive north in Oregon to visit Lakeview, John Day, Baker and Troy. Onward to Moscow, Idaho and then Nelson, Slocan Park and Halcyon Hot Springs in British Columbia. Then, we drove through Banff National Park to Rocky Mountain House and finally here at the Edmonton.

We stopped along the road to understand the state of the rural American West. Towns, far and near, are all wearing their fateful choices as best they can. Moscow, Idaho is thriving on the spirit of the alternative cultures passion for good books, music, food and community. Moscow is an outpost for progressives in the north. Lakeview, Burns, and John Day ache in sorrow. Saw mills all shut down. There are no saw logs to cut. Homes are shuttered, downtowns empty, and the next boom yet to arrive.

I’m stunned. Why do we let these small towns wait? Can’t we mount a campaign to build the renewable energy here? Why not? Men and women are all waiting for good work and no work could be more useful than transforming the workers of extractive industries into workers making a livelihood in the future renewable industries.

Save the lives and the land in one fell swoop. Why doesn’t America dare to dream to go where we have never gone before?

One thought on “The Old West is Waiting

  1. The western spirit is alive and well here in Caspar. Once the largest town here on the rugged California north coast our community shrank after the mill shut down in the fifties. Our aging ex-hippie generation is not being replaced by yuppie scum, but a new generation of farmers interested in tending the land… and they are pretty good at it. Tonight we’re feasting on local salmon caught this morning, fresh leeks, chard and radishes picked today. Gowan Batist is a realistic young farmer across the road. The bounty on my table tonight comes from her farm… a reward for me pulling her tractor out of the ditch yesterday. Here on the coast neighbors help neighbors and there is a bright future ahead for small communities.

    -Bob http://www.casparcommons.org

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