A celebration of Cascadia: A review of Open Spaces: Voices from the Northwest

 

Open Spaces: Voices from the Northwest
Penny Harrison, ed.
252 pages, softcover: $22.50.
University of Washington Press, 2011.

I read Open Spaces: Voices from the Northwest over two weeks, setting it down still open so that its pages made a neat tent on my coffee table, returning to it over morning coffee, between garden chores, after dinner with a glass of wine -- the way you'd read your favorite magazine. The more time I spent with this anthology, the less it made sense to me as a book, but the more I wanted to subscribe to Open Spaces, the Seattle- and Portland-based quarterly from which it derived. The essays and articles were unusually intimate, smart, thoughtful, artful and deeply connected to key regional issues. They worked wonderfully individually, but patched together as an anthology, they became something of a mish-mash.

The magazine calls itself an "open space" for discussion of issues that arise in the Northwest but affect us all. The anthology, however, gets off to a less than inclusive start with a forward by Denis Hayes (national coordinator for the first Earth Day and self-described "practical visionary") that reads like a booster's pitch for the Northwest: "The most important migration in today's globalized, mobile, wired world is arguably the movement of smart people to wherever they want to live. ..." And according to Hayes, all of those "creative, ambitious, world-changing people" want to live in Cascadia. In "Writing West," John Daniel widens the Northwest-Other Places divide, indulging in the stereotype about how city-dwelling Easterners think nature-loving Westerners are hicks and hacks. Daniel notes that Norman Maclean had trouble publishing A River Runs Through It because one Eastern editor claimed Maclean's stories had trees in them. But then the anthology gets better, with Sandra Dorr's lyric "Rhapsody for Blackberries" ("Let's be bears," she calls to her children as they gobble fresh blackberries on the porch); Lee C. Neff's amusing "Deadheading," wherein she extols the pleasures of cutting the heads off daylilies; and the political articles "Oregon Land Use Planning," by Richard P. Benner, "Water in the West," by Charles Wilkinson, and "A River Runs Against It: America's Evolving View of Dams," by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, all three of which educate and inform in a style that is universally fascinating and timeless.

Sometimes a book is a book and a magazine is a magazine, and sometimes the twain just don't meet. In the case of Open Spaces, readers might get better value and more enjoyment out of subscribing to the quarterly magazine than buying the anthology.

High Country News Classifieds
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    HawkWatch International seeks an experienced fundraiser to join our awesome team! This position will provide support in all aspects of the department. We are looking...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING IN TAOS, NEW MEXICO www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details:
  • HAND CRAFTED LOG HOME IN TETON VALLEY
    on ten acres. Full view of the Grand Teton. 35 miles to Yellowstone and 20 minutes to Grand Targhee Ski Area.
  • ACREAGE WITH HOME, SHOP, BARN FOR SALE!
    Must see for sng/extd fam or corp retreat in pines! $1,030,000
  • WESTERN REGIONAL MANAGER
    The American Forest Foundation seeks a smart and highly motivated candidate to join our Western conservation team. The Regional Manager supports the Regional Director to...
  • TRANSPORTATION PLANNER
    Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the Integrated Transportation...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL WRITING INSTITUTE (EWI)
    with Robert Michael Pyle September 26-30, 2018, in Missoula MT.
  • REPORTING FELLOW - BOISE, ID
    Boise State Public Radio is hiring a Reporting Fellow as part of a new nationwide collaborative, Guns & America. Based in the state capitol, Boise...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Middle Colorado Watershed Council. Rifle, CO.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF RIVERSEDGE WEST (FORMERLY TAMARISK COALITION)
    RiversEdge West is seeking an entrepreneurial leader with solid nonprofit management skills to lead our high functioning team and help us make an impact on...
  • HIRING BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER DIRECTOR
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring an Education Center Director to oversee the operation of the Bears Ears Education Center....
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR WITH WRA
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is seeking a talented, organized person with great people skills, who is passionate about protection of the natural environment to work...
  • DIRECTOR OF REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
    The Wilderness Society is recruiting for an experienced Communicator for our Northwest Region. This position is located in Seattle, WA. For more information please visit...
  • SALMON RIVER IDAHO WILDERNESS RETREAT HOME
    Here is an opportunity to have a piece of self-sufficient paradise on Idaho's Main Salmon River adjacent to the largest Forest Service wilderness area in...
  • RAMMED EARTH SOLAR COTTAGE
    in 5-home conservation community & botanical sanctuary on 20 acres.
  • MEMBERSHIP AND ENGAGEMENT COORDINATOR
    The Montana Wildlife Federation is looking for an enthusiastic and innovative Membership and Engagement Coordinator to help grow and maintain our grassroots voice for wildife,...
  • SR ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNER
    The City of Fort Collins is excited to announce a Sr Environmental Planner position within the Natural Areas Department. This position will be housed within...
  • HISTORICAL VACATION CABIN
    on beautiful Snow Angel Ranch located within San Juan National Forest near Pagosa Springs, CO. Lakes, fly-fishing, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, horse trails, horse accommodations...
  • FIVE-ACRE VIEW LOT WITH WELL
    5 acres, well. Abuts Carson NF; hike fish ski; deer turkey elk.