A little reading round-up this Tuesday morning. The last of three posts.Â
Minneapolis Star Tribune outdoors columnist Dennis Anderson’s column from yesterday once again dealt with the touchy subject of dedicated conservation funding and whether or not it should be tied to dedicated funding for the arts in the state. Anderson raised my ire a couple months ago with some vitriolic comments about those who would combine the two in one proposed constitutional amendment. Since then, I’ve read him warily, but he won me back to some extent by going fly fishing on the Kinnickinnic with his friend Skip James, who is apparently not only a heck of an angler but also the keyboardist for the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Anderson wisely chose to ask James, who is involved in both the arts and conservation, what he thought about the matter. James had an eloquent response:
“I think there are a lot of people who like to say musicians and artists are one kind of people, and outdoors people are another type, and that the two don’t have similar goals.
“I don’t think so. I think everyone who lives here is aware of the quality of life we have in Minnesota and Wisconsin. And the only thing that is going to keep life desirable here, and fun, is reliable, stable funding.”
Art in its many forms, Skip said he believes, is fundamental to human existence, whether at the Guthrie or Ordway, or in a grade-school play. Fundamental as well, he said, is the right to a clean environment.
“I read where, beginning in August, it might be illegal to smoke in public places,” he said. “Why isn’t it also the case that, beginning in August, it’s illegal to pollute rivers, and that thereafter everyone has a reasonable chance of enjoying a well-kept state park 20 years from now — or to have the experience of being exposed to, and participate in, the arts?
“These are community assets, and the community has to have ownership in them if they are to survive. And ownership can’t occur unless people are exposed to these things. Where I grew up on the East Coast, there’s no place to fish trout anymore. Streams that aren’t polluted are owned by a few rich people. Who’s the government going to ask to help sustain these resources? There’s no one. No one feels they have ownership, because they haven’t been involved.”
Amen. And a big “thank you” to Anderson for printing those words and being willing to look past the labels and stereotypes to study this difficult issue in the depth that is needed.