Earth Day Plus 38

At a Seattle conference in September of 1969, US Senator Gaylord Nelson announced a nationwide grassroots demonstration for the following April. It would be a day of protest to put the environment on the national political agenda. It would be a teach-in, recognition of all the environmental problems the country was facing in the last decades of the 20th Century. And so Earth Day was launched on...

No Darn Dam

There are no natural lakes in the South Carolina piedmont. Any body of water we’d call a pond or a lake or a reservoir is the result of engineering and political process. In the region where we live, nature makes rivers, but it takes money and government permits to make a lake. I prefer rivers to lakes. I understand that it’s necessary to impound water for drinking purposes, but the...

Water Wars Brew Here

I grew up in the 1960s, and back then the popular myths defining the American West were pretty clear-it was the land of opportunity, a region of dreams, the place those poor Southern mountaineers in “The Beverly Hillbillies” headed after they struck oil. Marc Reisner’s now classic 1986 study, “CADILLAC DESERT: The American West and its Disappearing Water,” moved the...

Two Years of Kudzu

Summer will soon be here. The first tropical storm of the season just crawled through the upcountry over the weekend.  That first day in the high 90s is right around the corner. Local strawberries are ripe, and soon the watermelons at the Publix will not cost nine dollars. The Hub City Farmer’s Market opens next Saturday, and so we’ll see whether our late freeze this year has...

The Mighty Chinquapin

When I was a kid growing up on the north side of Spartanburg one of the AM radio stations I listened to claimed to broadcast “from the banks of the mighty Chinquapin.” It made Chinquapin Creek, the largest of Lawson’s Fork’s tributaries, sound like the Mississippi River. I think that radio announcer’s humor might have been the beginning of my fascination with local...

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