Forest Policy Pub Book Club: Introductions

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To be honest, I’ve never been in a book club before. So this is an adventure. I thought we should start by introducing ourselves and telling our stories or, at least, some stories. One of the great things about Dan’s book is the stories he tells, and what a great story-teller he is. When you tell stories, say Dan’s triggers yours and yours triggers someone else’s and so on. This is a different kind of thing, and much more right-brained, than what we usually do on the blog. Not that we won’t challenge Dan’s knowledge claims, nor each other’s, through this process. But today let’s take a break from all that and listen to each other’s stories.

Why are stories important? This came across my email a while back from Ronna Detrick, who, I think, said it beautifully.

We live in a world of stories. Childhood fairytales shape our dreams and hopes. Family legends, imparted over kitchen table conversation, at reunions, and during road-trips, build our memory and craft our beliefs. Historical narratives inform our understanding of culture, politics, our larger world. Film, music, literature, and poetry mysteriously and continuously speak to our deepest heart – communicating truths we implicitly know and others we long to grasp.

Stories serve the way in which we are able to make sense of our world, our relationships, our behaviors, everything. They are how we speak of our circumstances, our deepest emotions, and our biggest questions; how we create and apply meaning. And they connect us to one another, bridging differences in language and perspective, time and place, past and future.

Most of us acknowledge that it’s less about a particular story and more about story, itself. It is the device, the vehicle, the means through which we express, listen, and even participate in our own life and others’. We admit (and even enjoy) that most stories, when told over and over again, not only shift and morph over time, but take on a life of their own.

“The fish gets a little bigger, the storm gets a little wilder, the love gets a little stronger, our bravery or disappointment gets a little exaggerated in the telling over time. There is creative tension in story. When we hear it, when we read it, when we speak it, when we write it, we filter words through our own experiences and our need for meaning. We shape the tale to reinforce our understanding of how life is. ~ “Christina Baldwin

This is what we love about them. This is why we tell them. This is why we live our lives within them. This is the power of story.

So, in the form of introduction, please say something about yourself and tell us one story about your relationship to the ideas of the balance of nature or systems ecology, and how they developed.

I’ll do a brief example:
I am a forester and plant geneticist/evolutionary biologist; I worked for the Forest Service for 32 years; I am running for Vice President of the Society of American Foresters; and I am a part-time theology student at Iliff.

When I was a freshman at Yale, I took two courses that were key to my future in forestry, and to my understanding of Nature. One was with Alison Richard, called “Primate Population Adaptations”. Another was “Man and the Environment” (no, I am not kidding; this was 1973 and we were one of the first classes after coeducation at Yale College). As I recall, Dr. Richard was the first, last and only female professor I had for the rest of my college career, which ended with a Ph.D. in Genetics in 1982. This experience (and reading gender studies of science) helped me understand the difference between the aspirations of “objective science” and the down and dirty reality of how it’s produced.

If your first framing of empirical, observational science is adaptation and evolution, as in the Primate class, the idea of a steady state is .. well..very odd. Evolution is change. Equilibrium is “not change” or change such that the results are still somehow “contained” in some abstract sense.

Probably the most important class I took in my college career was the next year at UCLA (I had run out of money so had to stay home and work full-time). It was called “History of American Science” and introduced me to the historical conceptions of science.. Like “applied science” was looked down upon because the upper classes focused on “basic” and could afford to study things without direct outcomes. Or the very real, continuing idea of Physics Envy. Having this class early, before most of my scientific training, helped me understand why different disciplines had more power and funding than others. I was able to watch funding for “science fads” flow and ebb across the forest science community and look at how the community and its different populations (disciplines) competed and evolved.

It is odd to me that history and philosophy of science are not required classes for trainee scientists. Also, remember that in those days “environmental science” was not separate. There was just “science,” and you applied it to whatever issue you had.

Much later one of my colleagues said to me “you’re not a conservation geneticist, you’re an exploitation geneticist!” because she disagreed with my ideas of What Should Be Done. But the key historical fact I’m trying to focus on here was that in the 70’s, there was just plain old genetics, silviculture, physiology, entomology, pathology, ecology, wildlife biology, range ecology, hydrology, fish biology, etc. At least that’s my memory.

Tell us a little about yourself, and what’s your story?

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16 Responses to Forest Policy Pub Book Club: Introductions

  1. Sharon says:

    From Nesbitt: I am really enjoying reading Botkin, but who can tell me where the title came from. I am reading “The Moon ———”, on a kindle so I have read 42%, but have no idea what page. When glaciation and the beginning of life on earth are part of the story, I see where he is going with “The balance of nature”, but who wouldn’t? Also I missed his explanation of the “organic” theory. Can someone explain that to me?

    • Sharon says:

      Yes, I’ll look that up and see if I can find it.

    • Sharon says:

      I am reading it on a Kindle app on an IPad.. my first e-book, so here goes.. on mine if you tap the screen you get a band on the top and on the bottom. On the bottom it tells you what page you are on.I am hoping that your Kindle app and mind have the same pagination. But that is different from the hardcover, which I have to return to the library today.

      Anyway on my Kindle app there is a search box in the upper band. When I typed “organic” in that , I found on page 12 what I think he means..
      “the only metaphors that people had to describe Earth were organic, derived from animals and plants, from the phenomena of life with which people were familiar, including human life.”

      and later on page K(indle) 13 “in contrast the organic image as an explanation of how nature works focuses on change and on processes, with change seen as inevitable, to which, like it or not, human beings must yield.”

      To understand that idea in greater depth, we might want to look at his cite 16, Nicholson.

  2. Bob Zybach says:

    Hi Sharon:

    It will be interesting to see how your idea of a virtual book club pans out. Botkin’s book is an excellent first choice. I was going to nominate Kat Anderson’s “Tending the Wild” as a second book, but recent discussions point toward Bonnicksen’s “Ancient Forests” as a better choice.
    Rather than addressing your questions, I’m going to tell my introductory story first and am going to follow your lead of “where I got my education” (“why books like this are interesting to me”):

    My hometown is Woodland, Washington, where some of my ancestors settled while the Lewis River was still part of the Oregon Territory. I was born shortly after WW II and my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Siegle, still taught from the Depression-era schoolbooks, so I learned how to read and spell phonetically, which caused me to read about and become thrilled by dinosaurs. I was an above average reader in Woodland 1st grade, but when I moved to Portland, Oregon in the second grade I was — by far — the best reader in the class, who had all been taught with modern “sight-sound” reading books. Because I could “sound” words out. I was good at sports, math, and science, so excelled in those areas until New Math turned me into a dunce with a Geometry course. It may have been the best thing to happen to me as it convinced me of the differences between rote memorization and problem solving, and the relative values of each (at least in my world). This was followed by a prolonged vacation at Portland State University during the late 60’s, where I majored in elementary education and poetry writing and focused on biological experimentation involving my own body chemistry.

    To support my education hobby I began planting trees in the woods on a seasonal basis, where I could make pretty good money during the winter months and collect unemployment to help subsidize my college habit during the spring and summer. By the early 70’s I had fathered a child, started a reforestation business, quit college, and mostly quit writing poetry. That was when my education in ecology began.

    Most of what I learned over a 20 year period while planting more than 2 million trees and contracting more than 80 thousand acres of reforestation work had to do with teaching people how to do things collectively and by paying close attention to the Indian women who had worked the same landscapes 200 and 400 years before me and my crews got there. Many of my newer crew members seemed to marvel at how quickly I could get through the woods — one minute they’d see me way across the hill taking a smoke break with some of my crew, and the next minute I’d be taking a smoke break with them and looking at their work. I was following old Indian trails, and after a few years I began to figure that out. Also, why I knew where the deer, fish, camas, oaks, huckleberries, wokus, filberts, strawberries, beargrass (it used to have different names), and iris (“flags”) were located across the landscape. I was following in the footsteps of Indian women who had worked with the same hills and soils and plants and tastes, textures, and odors that I had become familiar with. It was their landscape I was “reforesting.” In 1982, Stephen Pyne gave me a working vocabulary.

    A shoulder injury and spotted owl economics forced me back to college in the late 1980s. I took a few Community College courses to make certain I hadn’t fried my brain in the previous 30+ years, and then enrolled at Oregon State University to (really): 1) find out where all of the nutty information that recent OSU forestry grads had been spouting was coming from, and 2) be able to present the environmental/old-growth anti-logging anti-herbicide community with some actual factual historical data that would show that all of their gnashing of teeth and prophesies of doom were — at best — really premature. Clearly, their models and their professors were misrepresenting past conditions and thereby making bold and erroneous statements and predictions about the future of our forests and they would be happy to hear documented information was a lot more joyful and a lot less ominous than what they were saying and being told. Clearly, I was naive.

    At OSU I was inspired by Dick (one of the few people outside the medical profession I ever called “Dr.”) Hermann for his knowledge, vision, and encouragement; Mike Newton for his work ethic, experimental design and detailed field measurements; and Royal Jackson for his professional help, confirmation, and research methods. By the time I got my forestry degree, there were no forestry jobs for educated, older white males without a GS-rating at the agencies and universities, so I went for my Masters degree, focusing on the documents and stories of older people to provide insights into forest history: http://www.nwmapsco.com/ZybachB/Oral_Histories/Soap_Creek_Valley/index.html

    Most of what I learned at that time was from the older people I was interviewing, and from side projects (to help pay for my education and support my kids): with Dan Botkin regarding Oregon coastal coho; Jim Peterson regarding public outreach; Kent Kelly and murrelet politics; Mike Grice and urban forestry, etc.

    My Master’s degree didn’t add any employment opportunities due to age, sex, race, and health, so I went for my PhD, with the financial assistance of Ralph Hull and the guidance of Wayne Giesy — who has remained my partner in crime since we first started working together near the beginning of my Masters studies. A new line of study at OSU, Environmental Sciences, had just been created and I was able to design my own curriculum. No more stats, Latin, or rote memorization. My best committee members were Kermit Cromack and George Taylor and I got my degree in 2003.

    So that’s what got me here, ready to begrudgingly do another book report.

  3. Sharon says:

    And isn’t it interesting that we both had the same problem getting jobs (for opposite reasons) after our master’s degrees and so went on to Ph.D.s as the only available source of work?

    Note that on page Kxx, Hxxi the reasons for going into science are 1) curiosity, 2) safe and comfortable standard of living, 3) tell other people what to do (restatement of Botkin).

    The reason I pursued my master’s degree was so I could enjoy a year with my friends at Yale College without having to pay for it (when I learned that undergrads pay the school and the school pays grads (at least in the distant past) it was a no-brainer.) The reason I pursued my Ph.D. is that folks weren’t hiring people of my gender and I needed a job. In the community I grew up in, at the time I was raised, women could be teachers, nurses, work in beauty salons, or become nuns. Income was always an important value to me.

    If, in fact, folks get masters and Ph.D.’s in science as income- producing work in and of itself (research or teaching assistants), when there are few alternatives open to that age/gender/ethnic/sexual orientation group, that adds another twist.

  4. I’m a child of the city, born and raised in Richmond, Calif. – a working-class community in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, where I grew up in the shadow of oil refineries, chemical plant explosions and Superfund sites. But the Bay Area is also blessed with an abundance of urban open space, thanks to far-sighted civic leaders who developed regional wildland parks in the 1930s — and to the U.S. Army, which turned its coastal fortifications and cantonments over to the National Park Service in the 1970s. So I spent my childhood play-days clambering on disused gun batteries and hiking through undeveloped oak woodlands.

    What I knew of forest management growing up in the late 80s and early 90s was filtered through the lens of that era — it was the dying days of 10bbf+ harvests and as our family camping trips spread to virtually every Region 5 national forest north of the Transverse Range, my father (who was, at the time, a Sierra Club chapter leader) would frequently point out with disgust the clear-cuts that dotted the landscape just beyond any highway-side “beauty strip”… let’s just say that back then, I never in a million years would have considered working for the Forest Service. Yet it was primarily in the national forests — jeep trails on the Inyo, dispersed campsites on the Sequoia, hot springs on the Toiyabe — that my father and I explored California’s wild places, and where I came to understand the power and promise of the public lands.

    My prolonged undergraduate education and early professional experience were in journalism and public relations. I covered everything from the 9/11 attacks to a college bowl game (the first bowl victory for the University of Idaho in two decades) and while those were interesting and wonderful times… like both of you, after graduating in the summer of 2010 I ran headlong into the reality of finding employment. Journalism was (and is) a profession in crisis and I couldn’t get so much as a nibble.

    Not wanting to admit defeat and move home with the parents, I started looking and applying for anything and everything. Even a six-month SCA internship in the Forest Service’s Alaska Regional Office that would subject me to a winter in Juneau. (I wintered over in Fairbanks during of my “study abroad” year at UAF, so I figured I could handle Southeast Alaska’s winter.) It was “only” the Forest Service, not the NPS position I’d really wanted, but how bad could it be?

    In six months attached to the recreation shop of the R10 RO, I learned that the Forest Service of then is not the Forest Service of today. That’s both good and bad, for any number of reasons which we can and might get into. But what I most came to understand was the importance of the forests to the communities they sustain, and perhaps nowhere in the entire agency is that more true than Southeast Alaska, where literally 95% of the land is National Forest System. These are not communities in the forest, these are communities of the forest. Whether it’s timber, salmon, hydropower or tourism, the products that the forest produces are essential to the sustainability of Southeast Alaska’s people. And in turn, the economies of these communities are directly dependent upon sustaining the forest’s productivity long into the future.

    My boss, Jeff Miller, encouraged me to find a way to get educated and stay connected. Graciously, Ron Marvin offered me a student hire slot at Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. I was one of the last SCEPs ever hired, and I owe Ron (who retired at the end of last year) an incredible debt. I ended up in grad school at Indiana University, studying interpretation and recreation management under Doug Knapp, while spending summers doing interp in a pickle suit at MGVC. My thesis was a qualitative examination of interpretive programs and outcomes at the center, and even before that was finished, I was offered the partnership coordinator job on the Tongass. So I find myself now on the third floor of the Federal Building in downtown Ketchikan, thinking about how to reconcile shrinking budgets, increasing demands and a mountain of accumulated bureaucracy.

    • Bob Zybach says:

      Hi Travis: Good to learn more about you! I spent a summer in Ketchican and Juneau in 1967 and visited Mendenhall glacier several times during my stay. If I remember right, there were only about 10 or 11 miles of road in Juneau at that time (maybe Ketchican, where I had access to a small Yamaha motorcycle, the biggest bike on the island). Part of my income was putting together what I believe was Alaska’s first light show (“Northern Lights Limited”) for a local dance, based on some light shows I had helped with in the Portland area in preceding months and built in part with an Erector set junior (strobe). Also spent a lot of time reading Robert Service poems, several of which my Dad could recite from memory, having learned them from his grandfather. I’m glad you’re going to participate in this discussion because I believe a lot of Botkin’s ideas have strong relevance to environmental sciences at this time. Too, he was also a trained writer. Should be interesting!

  5. Sharon says:

    Thank you for this, Travis. Your writing shows all those years of journalism school.. you have a real gift (IMHO).

    I too grew up in a working- class suburb, in a working-class family, in southern California, Culver City.. home of Hughes Aircraft and a variety of movie studios at that time. My “wild” outlets were the concrete-lined La Ballona Creek, the oil-derrick studded Baldwin Hills, the beach and farther afield, the Southern California National Forests. No logging, though, just a variety of recreation,

    My first logging show was during the summer OMSI science camp where we sat and watched an LP clearcut out of Estacada somewhere. But I found intriguing, enough to return to the idea of forestry years later, a Forest Service person at Estacada (I think) District explaining to us how an increment borer works. What I liked about it was that it made the secret and intimate life of trees visible. Forester, forest scientist or nature mystic? Sometimes I still wonder.

  6. gildehuff says:

    Bob

    Mythology has never held any interest for me although I suppose some sprang from some long lost kernel of truth. In that vein, I believe that it is possible that mankind has risen to great heights in the past only to be brought near to extinction by circumstances beyond his control. Until I was 26 or so I was a serious agnostic. Even in my teens, I realized that if there was a God, I’d need to get in line with His will or suffer eternal consequences but, like Thomas, I demanded proof certain of God’s existence. I was extremely shy, small and very physical. I did not like school. The library, fiction and nature books and the local heavily wooded parks were home for me and my beagle. In the woods of Arlington, Virginia, I would note the late afternoon light play in the trees after getting out of school and think that if there was a God, the woods were his cathedral. I have read the bible daily since sometime in the mid ’70s and I have concluded that Thomas, Peter, Paul and Luke are unquestionably reliable witness to the resurrection of Christ. To me that one fact proves the existence of the God of Abraham. I now have my proof certain. I would be a fool not to want to please Him.

    I was so bad in school that I had to go to summer school every summer for english and math. In 8th grade summer school algebra I had a teacher who said using a text book during a test was perfectly fine and I excelled in algebra. I discovered that I hated memorization as did Mr. Albert Einstein who apparently also failed algebra. I quickly found out that my 9th grade geometry teacher didn’t share the open book test philosophy so I went into another tailspin. I applied to Virginia Tech and was accepted based on my SAT test scores but with the condition that I had to get all B’s or better my senior year in one of the best public schools in the country.

    At Va Tech I was a rat for one quarter with the same experiences as if I’d been at VMI, the Citadel, West Point or Annapolis. I was ready to do anything to get out of that so I joined the cross country team and moved to the jock dorm where there were no rules. I graduated with a BS in Forest Management and a minor in Biometrics. I couldn’t go to grad school at Va Tech because I failed advanced theoretical calculus in my last quarter in a beautiful western Virginia mountain spring. My analytical score in the GRE was a good as it gets so I got into the best graduate quantitative forestry school in the country at UGA. I was the only masters program candidate amongst a group of extremely brilliant doctoral candidates who are eminent in their field so I was the dumbest guy in the biometrics department in forestry grad school. Somehow, I had a knack for computer programming so I was all prepared to be part of the bleeding edge of computerized, quantitative forest management in the industrial world.

    Prior to grad school, I worked for the USFS all but one summer and during my senior year. I fought fires, did TSI, and ran land lines in the gorgeous Shasta Trinity NF out of the Mule Creek ranger station the summer of ’64 and the rest of the time I was either working as a caretaker for a research station or serving as a statistician. Still not a Christian, I served 10 months in the Navy in Cuba and 10 months in Norfolk with commendations from both. God miraculously saved my life several times in Cuba but, I didn’t see Him there until I looked back after beginning my Christian journey in earnest.

    I am told that there is an old Chinese curse that says ‘may you live an interesting life’. I have lived a very interesting life and as I look back at all of the things that I have been part of, I can honestly say that the Lord was in it all and I understand why God allowed some of the wrongs to happen. Professionally, I have done just about everything on the technical and financial end of the forestry side of the business from designing four inventory systems (co designing the Two Dog Windows commercial software) and everything else including experimental design and statistical analysis, designing and implementing a very successful GIS system in one year and etc. On the industrial side of the business, I ran a sawmill and served as the division industrial engineer for two sawmills and two plywood plants. Along the way, I discovered that I did not want to do the things necessary to get to the top. There were times when my moral judgment brought big boys down and there were times where my unwillingness to bend the rules cost me.

    There is lots more but, if you want to know more, I suggest you check out my Linked-in profile at: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=60434506&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

  7. Sharon says:

    Gil, I also lived in Falls Church and Lake Barcroft (close to Arlington) later in my life than you, and also enjoyed those wonderful hardwood forests; had (and still have) a coonhound from Friends of Homeless Animals in Aldie, VA (tricolor) but not a beagle..
    061

    I was never good at memorization either.. that’s why I liked algebra and genetics ..

    • Bob Zybach says:

      Well, this is interesting. I hated classes based on rote memorization and became a confirmed B+ student as a result. In high school I went from a star advanced Algebra student to a D in “New Math” geometry, where problem solving and correct answers weren’t nearly as important as remembering (and following) all of the designated steps that were assigned to a problem. In college I flunked required calculus, taxonomy, and statistics the first time through (and almost lost my funding and status on a few occasions as a result), mostly because they were taught as exercises in memorization. Still, I became a member of the national forestry honor society, Xi Sigma Pi, despite these difficulties because I typically took 20-25 hours a term (before they started charging extra for more than 18 hours), and got A’s in almost everything else. Except economics.

      Part of my problem is organic. As a youth I had an excellent memory for baseball statistics, for nearly everything I had ever read or heard, and for the locations of any road or trail I had ever been on — but have always had major problems remembering people’s names or faces, sometimes even for a few minutes after I’ve been introduced, or for members of my own family that I haven’t seen in a while. Very (very) embarrassing at times, and something my own kids used to like to exploit for their own amusement. But once I figured out or was told who someone was, I could usually remember all of my conversations with them, what was said by whom, and where the conversation took place. A mixed bag, but very useful in getting my Master’s degree, which was based on oral histories centered on a geographical location and not on calculus or statistics.

      • gildehuff says:

        Bob

        I have the same problems with names. Someone once explained to me that it was because I didn’t care. Instantly, I knew that they were right. The person and what they thought were what was important to me, not their name. It does point out something very important. We have all learned it. We are good at what interests us and we are interested in what we are good at. To really succeed at something we have to have both the talent and sufficient interest to unlock that talent.

        A lot of my problem in school was that I couldn’t care less about something if I couldn’t see where it mattered in terms of what use I could put that knowledge to. As a result a great deal of my ability to learn was determined by the teacher’s teaching philosophy. I did a lot better when the teacher spent more time on the why than the hows. I quickly learned that if I fully understood the whys and a few key hows, I could figure out the rest of the hows any time that I wanted to without having to memorize.

    • gildehuff says:

      Sharon

      I was the only kid that the newspaper ?”Arlington Sun”? could get to deliver in the hills between Lake Barcroft and Seven Corners because I was the only one who could get up the hills on a bike. My brother became the second one who could do it. We lived 4 houses east of Kenmore Jr. HS in Glen Carlin. On Google, I can see the foot print of the old Kenmore JHS just south of the new Kenmore which is now where we had our outdoor gym classes. I went to the same building for 2nd – 4th grade and played all in the storm drains that they were installing on Carlin Springs Rd when they expanded it from an elementary to a JHS. My beagle and I knew every inch of four mile run and Glen Carlin Park. I’ve went back once in the mid 2000’s and the RR tracks are up and there were people crawling all over the place. ‘You can never go home’. A buddy and I used to throw firecrackers down at the old B&O train that used to run where the bicycle path is now. The train engineer would just smile and wave. 🙂

      I bought my first car at Baily’s Crossroads in the spring of ’66 when there was nothing at the intersection but a used car lot on the east side of the intersection.

  8. John says:

    I discovered in my teenage years that I wanted to be a forester. I lived in Maryland, which did not have a state forestry college, so I attended the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University. After graduation and two years in the Army, I started work for the USDA Forest Service. (1961).
    I subsequently found I had a second and parallel calling, and in 1973 was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church.
    Three years later I finished the Forest Service coarse for silvicultural certification and became a certified ranger district silviculturist. I then moved to the Fremont National Forest as the Forest Silviculturist, and assisted as a deacon in the Lakeview Episcopal church. In 1987 I was ordained priest and made Vicar of that church. I mention this dual career because it had a profound effect on what I read.
    In 1982 I earned a Master’s Degree in Forest Ecology.
    My theological authors included Kathleen Norris, Joan Chittister, Marcus Borg, and Richard Rohr, while my secular books include Guns, Germs and Steel, Collapse, 1491, 1493, and The Moon in the Nautilus Shell. I believe these author’s thoughts compatible.
    My wild-land fire fighting qualifications were as Fire Behavior Analyst and Division Supervisor.
    Through my silviculture, fire behavior, and fuels experience, I had numerous opportunities to use models. I clearly remember a Canadian Forester giving a fire behavior lecture saying: “No models are right, but many are useful”, and I have always remembered that.
    I retired as the Regional Fuels Specialist and as Rector of an Episcopal church in Portland, Oregon.
    Since retirement, I have read everything I could on global warming and carbon sequestration and the politics of the same.
    I found The Moon in the Nautilus Shell wonderful reading and to me, Botkin is issuing a warning that researchers and politicians may ride the global warming horse, for funding and fame, way ahead of the science.

    • Sharon says:

      John, thanks for this. I too am a fan of Kathleen Norris, Joan Chittister, and Richard Rohr. It amazes me that you had time to pursue both priestly and forestry/fire tracks, but it’s a great background for discussing Botkin’s book.

      Others: John and I worked together in the Fremont SO our chairs were back to back for a while. This was the “‘bull pen” desk concept which predated the “cubicle” concept. John showed me the ropes when I was a Forest Service newbie back in ’79. For which I will always be grateful. Some might argue that I never actually learned “the ropes” 😉 ; but that would all be on me, and not John. At the time, I was tempted to convert to becoming Episcopal based on John’s what we would call “witness”, and due to difficulties with the RC church which you can imagine; never could quite do it, though. Developed a strong affection for them, though, which continues to this day, and my son was baptized Episcopalian in Bend later.

    • Bob Zybach says:

      John: Thank you for joining this discussion and explaining your past. I am totally unfamiliar with Norris, Chittister, and Rohr, but would probably put Hesse in their stead when it comes to my understanding of spirituality, Weirdly, I have recently learned that Botkin’s father was probably responsible for reinforcing my developing agnosticism in High School, where I developed an affinity for folklore and folk singing while unfortunately and simultaneously reading the Bible literally. I did attend Episcopalian church services, also in Portland, maybe 16th Street or so, as a grade-schooler in the mid 1950s.

      I hope you continue remarking on the Botkin readings. I am interested to learn what those with a heavy religious background might think of some of his ideas on myth.

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