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
  • ADOBE HOME
    Passive solar adobe home in high desert of central New Mexico. Located on a 10,000 acre cattle ranch.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Western Slope Conservation Center Paonia, CO WSCC seeks a dynamic leader who is mission-driven, hardworking and a creative problem-solver. Position Summary: The Executive Director leads...
  • ARIZONA STATE DIRECTOR
    A LITTLE ABOUT US Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all...
  • CONSERVATION MANAGEMENT/HOSPITALITY SERVICES
    Seasoned ranch manager of award-winning conservation ranch seeking position as nature reserve/resort or ranch manager. Visit philipmoonwalker.com for resume and certifications. Contact: [email protected]
  • PART-TIME OREGON GRANT WRITER
    Help advance rights for people, communities, and nature - Part-time grant writer. The Oregon Community Rights Network (ORCRN) has been active over the last six...
  • UTAH PUBLIC LANDS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    Job Title: Utah Public Lands Program Director Location: Southern Utah Position: Full Time (40 hours per week) Supervisor: Conservation Director About us: The Grand Canyon...
  • FSBO PROPERTY-SOUTHEAST ARIZONA
    Located in an area steeped in history, this gentleman's ranch sits at the entrance to the renowned Cave Creek Canyon. Enjoy picturesque views of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eastern Nevada Landscape Coalition, based in Ely, Nevada is looking for a new executive director to replace the long-time executive director who is retiring at...
  • LAND CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    JOIN OUR TEAM! The New Mexico Land Conservancy in Santa Fe is seeking a Land Conservation Project Manager who will work to protect land and...
  • HOME NEAR CAPITOL REEF NP
    Comfortable home at foot of Boulder Mountain, on one fenced acre. Amazing views!
  • STEVE HARRIS, EXPERIENCED PUBLIC LANDS/ENVIRONMENTAL ATTORNEY
    Comment Letters - Admin Appeals - Federal & State Litigation - FOIA -
  • LISA MACKEY PHOTOGRAPHY
    Fine Art Gicle Printing. Photo papers, fine art papers, canvas. Widths up to 44". Art printing by an artist.
  • LOG HOME IN THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Beautiful hand built log home in the heart of the Gila Wilderness on five acres. Please email for PDF of pictures and a full description.
  • NEW MEXICO PROPERTY - SILVER CITY
    20 acres, $80,000. Owner financing, well, driveway, fencing possible, very private, sensible covenants, broker owned. Contact - 575-534-7955 or [email protected]
  • SECLUDED COLORADO HIDEAWAY
    This passive solar home sits on 2 lots and offers an abundance of privacy and views while being only 15 minutes to downtown Buena Vista....
  • CARETAKER
    2.0 acre homestead needing year-round caretaker in NE Oregon. Contact [email protected] for details.
  • SEEKING PROPERTY FOR BISON HERD
    Seeking additional properties for a herd of 1,000 AUM minimum. Interested in partnering with landowners looking to engage in commercial and/or conservation bison ranching. Location...
  • COPPER STAIN: ASARCO'S LEGACY IN EL PASO
    Tales from scores of ex-employees unearth the human costs of an economy that runs on copper.
  • EXPERT LAND STEWART
    Available for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojadigital.net.
  • CONSERVATIONIST? IRRIGABLE LAND?
    Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.