Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thank You, Howard Zahniser

Here's another music video attempt of mine. 

The pictures and documents displayed are from my friend Stewart Brandborg's personal files and records. Brandy took over The Wilderness Society after Howard Zahniser's untimely death in 1964, a few months before Zahnie's eight-year Foggy Bottom slog to get a Wilderness Bill through our ever-unholy Congress was finally realized. It was Brandy's task to implement it against bureaucratic reluctance and intransigence within all the agencies that managed our public lands. The long story is a book that hasn't been written yet (I'm working on it!). For now, though, the short story is this: Brandy's dad (Guy M. Brandborg, pictured on his horse with Zahniser and AnnaVee Brandborg in the video) was a progressive forester from the Gifford Pinchot mold and his grandfather (on his father's side), was what you'd call a socialist back in the early part of the twentieth century when farmer's unions were getting going. Socialism and its progressive cousins are as American as rhubarb pie, just as John-Birch-Society-style "libertarianism" is. Guess which one you can thank for the wilderness law, and for Democracy, too, while you're at it? 

Brandy, as with his whole family, was well-read, well-steeped in social altruism, and a natural believer in Democracy (with a capital "D", not the FoxNews "fair and balanced" kind). With such a rich heritage, Brandy naturally gravitated to Howard Zahniser and his epic campaign to get Congress to pass the singular law that admitted that humility was a good quality for a majority of them to confess they had a little of. After the Law was passed, Brandy pretty much wrote the book on grassroots organizing in the latter part of the twentieth century in order to get it implemented. Other laws, and other grassroots campaigns, followed the trails cut out by the original Wilderness Society organizers. Political hyperventilation from the extractors and their mouthpieces hasn't let up since, of course. It's been mean and incessant for decades, to the point where we can only bear witness to the inscrutable, nasty yet ultimately ephemeral Tea Party phenomenum here in the Rockies. 

The Land, always, prevails. Be on the right side of it. Here's to the start of it all for those of us alive today. Here's to Howard Zahniser, Stewart Brandborg and here's to good ol' Democracy.

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