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'Assault on the Male'

Paonia residents got a sneak preview in the town hall of "Assault on the Male," a BBC documentary that showed on the Discovery Channel Sept. 4. The preview and talk were courtesy of Theo Colborn, a Paonia resident and former local pharmacist who spends most of her time in Washington, D.C., where she works for the World Wildlife Fund. The event was sponsored by the Western Slope Environmental Resource Council.

Theo's mission is to save wildlife from thousands of chemicals that have found their way into the biosphere. To do that, she said, the white male power structure must be shown that it is threatened by the same chemicals. "After all," she said of the impact of chemical insecticides on living things, "there's not a lot of difference between an insect and a human being."

The documentary focused on the possibility that the estrogen-mimicking, manmade chemicals that pervade the globe are responsible for the apparent sharp drop in male sperm counts (human males today are half the men their grandfathers were), and for the rise in testicular and prostate cancer. The effects of pesticides, preservatives, plastics and other ingredients of industry's witch's brew showed up first in wildlife, she said, because of wildlife's briefer generations. Now the effects are being seen in humans, with the assault on the reproductive system most marked.

Theo, whose house is catty-corner from the HCN office and adjacent to the school district's bus garage, despaired of spending much time in town. The Pew Foundation Scholar said the issue of chemical interference with human sexuality is exploding, keeping her busy more than full time.

Late summer visitors

Keith Oswald of Sedona, Ariz., president of the Northern Arizona Audubon Society, stopped to say hello. As did Wayne Roth and Kathleen Alcala and son Ben, 4. The former residents of this area now live in Seattle, Wash., where Kathleen is a publisher of The Raven Chronicles and Wayne runs KUOW-FM.

De Witt Daggett III of Anchorage, Alaska, founder of NorthWord's Audio Press, which records works by Wallace Stegner, Edward Abbey, Terry Tempest Williams and others, stopped by to do some town and house hunting. Mike Clarken of the American Civil Liberties Union in Tucson visited on his way home from Alaska and Canada. He was in a hurry, he said, because he missed Tucson's 118 degree weather and couldn't wait to get home.

Chuck Klingenstein of Park City, Utah, came through on an academic research swing. He is doing a master's degree study for the University of Utah on the West's latest boom. Jorge Mora, a graduate student at Denver University, visited with Michael Ehlers, an HCN board member from Boulder, and his wife, Tracy, a professor at Denver University.

Intern moves West

New intern Shara Rutberg recently graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., with a degree in sociology. Her initial flight from the Windy City area took her to South America, where she studied everything from penguins of Patagonia to blue-footed boobies of the Galapagos Islands.

In the past Shara has researched traditional healing and ecotourism in the Amazon, slopped biscuits and grits for tourists in Yellowstone National Park, and gone undercover as a militant AIDS activist while researching her thesis on risky political activism. By coming to Paonia, she continues to perplex her family with travel plans keeping her far from her home in suburban Philadelphia, Pa.

* Ed Marston, for the staff