Check out the excellent commentary featured in the Gloucester Daily Times on Wednesday –
Commentary: Creating Commons
“If this land be not rich, then is the whole world poor.”
So wrote Thomas Morton upon his arrival on Cape Ann in 1624. In a treatise published in London, Morton described the coast he encountered as a “New English Canaan,” a promised land filled with flora and fauna the likes of which Europeans had not yet known. Morton’s description of the area’s bounty was not singular. For example, John Smith’s report back to the imperial center preceded Morton’s and John Josselyn’s was published shortly after Morton’s. Such 17th-century writings inspired the English occupation of what would become the New England colonies and the accompanying genocide of the Native populations that had been here for centuries before the first European set foot on Cape Ann.
We begin with a return to this early settler history not to celebrate the violence and destruction it inspired, but to recall how awestruck Europeans were by the abundant natural beauty of the place that we call our home. Cape Ann was beautiful then, and it is beautiful now. This hardly needs saying. Artists have captured its twilight, poets have described its “granite teeth,” and mystics have meditated on its shores. But even as the land has been celebrated over the centuries, it too has been exploited. This story is not unique to Cape Ann, of course; it is the American story of land. On this island, the merchants of the 18th century were replaced by industrialists who then gave way to the 20th century’s financiers, all of them extracting, privatizing, and profiting from Cape Ann’s abundant timber and granite. With the dawning of beach tourism in the mid-19th century, the extensive coastline with its generous beaches led to further cordoning off and construction.
Now, in the 21st century, as we stare down the barrel of climate collapse, we must consider how, over four centuries of European occupation, we have grown so estranged from the land, so out of step with its natural rhythms and cycles. We are invited, in the spirit of the Potawatomi environmental biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer and others who advocate for new paradigms of land stewardship, to consider how we might live in relationships of reciprocity with the place we inhabit and with its many abundances. We seek, to borrow a phrase from the novelist Catherine Bush, “not control, but the agency to engage in acts of repair.”
This is the common cause that unites our collective of artists, avant gardeners, arborists, historians, and thinkers. We are all longtime residents of Cape Ann, and we share an endless fascination — even infatuation — with its local flora. READ MORE HERE
Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) currently blooming at Millbrook Meadow, Rockport
We’d like to send a heartfelt thank you to the Gloucester Daily Times staff writer Ethan Forman and editor-in-chief Andrea Holbrook for writing about our Good Harbor Beach Plovers. We friends of Cape Ann Plovers appreciate so much your thoughtful writing and taking the time to get the story straight!
Mass Audubon to help protect threatened plovers
By Ethan Forman
The sighting of the one-footed piping plover Super Mom, and others like her on Good Harbor Beach during the last week in March, coincides with human activity there meant to help preserve and protect coastal shorebirds during the busy summer beach season.
That includes the installation of symbolic fencing made up of metal posts and yellow rope around the dunes with signs letting beachgoers know the “Restricted Area” is “a natural breeding ground for piping plovers.”
“These rare birds, their nests and eggs are protected under Massachusetts and federal laws,” the signs read.
The nation’s oldest seaport is taking extra steps this year to monitor and minimize disturbances to Super Mom and others of her threatened species of small, stocky migratory birds that have made the popular beach their summer home in recent years.
On Monday, the city announced it had entered into an agreement with Mass Audubon to help with the monitoring and management of coastal nesting birds, including piping plovers, on the city’s public beaches, according to a press release.
Lovely update from the Gloucester Daily Times Gail McCarthy for Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. So many thanks to the Times for their continued support for BotWing. I am so grateful and appreciative!
AROUND CAPE ANN: Local artists earn accolades
Around Cape Ann Gail McCarthy January 14, 2020
Gloucester’s Kim Smith, who boasts a love of nature, photography and all things art, has found growing recognition for her film “Beauty on the Wing,” about the life of the monarch butterfly and its intercontinental migration from Canada to Mexico.
Smith spent more than eight years researching and documenting the natural phenomenon, whose more than 3,000 miles includes Cape Ann.
This fall, her documentary was accepted into the Boston International Kids Film Festival, where it earned an award for best documentary.
More recently, “Beauty on the Wing” received an Award of Excellence from the Nature Without Borders International Film Festival and was accepted as an official selection to the Providence Children’s Film Festival, which takes place in February.
“I am overjoyed that ‘Beauty on the Wing’ is finding acceptance at both children’s and conservation festivals; that jurors see it as it was meant to be, a conservation film for people of all ages,” Smith said.
Rockport artist Susan Lynn won the grand prize at the EnPleinAirTEXAS competition with her painting titled “Peace on the River.”
“It was overwhelming to get the grand prize because there is a stellar group of painters in that competition every year,” she said. “It was humbling, and I was very honored to be recognized in that group.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you to Joann Mackenzie, Andrea Holbrook, and the Gloucester Times for the beautifully written story“Butterfly Film Takes Flight”.
Ten years in the making, Kim Smith’s butterfly film takes flight
Kim Smith’s monarch movie 10 years in the making
GLOUCESTER TIMES OCTOBER 28, 2020
By Joann Mackenzie Staff Writer
Every story has a back story, and Kim Smith’s back story began in her backyard.
In the mid 1990s, Smith — an award-winning landscape designer — filled her Gloucester garden with native and pollinator plantings that attract all manner of winged creatures. These, thanks to lots of milkweed, included lots of magnificent monarch butterflies. “I just loved them,” says Smith, “I wanted more and more of them.”
There began a tale that this year saw Smith complete a 10-year project, the making of the 56-minute documentary “Beauty on the Wing — Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.” In a few short months, and despite the pandemic canceling its local premiere, the film has seen its way to six film festivals, all virtual, the latest of which — the Boston International Kids Film Festival — runs Nov. 20 to 22.
American Public TV Worldwide —the world’s largest distributor of educational television has just signed the documentary for global distribution.
Armed with a handheld digital camera, an artist’s eye, and a love of her subject, Smith has captured the life, work and world of what she calls “this charismatic little creature,” beginning with its metamorphosis from a tiny egg, to its amazing annual journey from the summer shores of its Gloucester habitats to its winter habitats in the Mexican mountains and forests of Michoacán, where the monarchs annual arrival has long been regarded as something of a miracle: the returning of the souls of the dead descending from the sky in fluttering orange clouds, to roost by the millions in the trees.
When she began the project in 2006, Smith knew nothing about filmmaking. Photographing the monarchs, first as “a record,” she was urged on by family and friends. One of them, Gloucester’s late historian Joe Garland, was particularly encouraging. “Oh, I thought, I have to learn to make a film,” she recalls, of her early days learning the basics with Andrew Love and Lisa Smith at Cape Ann TV (now Studio 1623).
Investing in a hand-held HD Canon video camera, Smith began shooting digital. “It was small and so easy to use that I could crouch down, or lie down to capture extreme close-ups,” she says. Supported by community fundraising that covered the $35,000 production budget, she shot “tons of footage over the years,” wrote and recorded the narrative script, and saved on post production costs by teaching herself to digitally edit her film.
Her goal, she says, was not just to celebrate the monarch, but to educate viewers about the plight of this creature that is loved around the world. Indigenous to North America, these light, bright orange butterflies have through the centuries been blown by wind and weather to other continents, including England, where, in the late 17th century, they were named in honor of King William III of England, also known as the Prince of Orange.
In the last 20 years, however, the butterflies’ numbers have plummeted worldwide from a billion to 30 million, as the excessive use of herbicides has killed off much of their main food source —milkweed— while climate change has confused their flight patterns. And in Mexico, the logging of trees has sabotaged the delicate ecosystem of their annual return.
Smith’s film joins a growing body of environmental activism on behalf of the monarch butterfly. Gardeners across the nation have, like Smith, filled flower beds with milkweed to feed their numbers. The Obama administration, concerned by its alarming decline, allocated $3.2 million to protect it.
In making her documentary, Smith traveled to Mexico twice to film, and learned firsthand just how endangered the monarchs have become. Over time, she says, she came to see monarchs as “little gateway creatures that can open the way to for people to learn about other endangered creatures.”
At Good Harbor Beach, a favorite early morning photographic haunt, Smith began to turn her camera to another local endangered species, piping plovers. Like the monarchs, the little shore birds rely on a fragile ecosystem that Smith began to take an active role in protecting, while filming them. With her monarch documentary now in worldwide release, the piping plovers are on their way to star billing in a new documentary, now in production.
Meanwhile, the Boston International Kids Film Festival, a program of Filmmakers Collaborative, will screen Smith’s documentary as “one of best that the world of independent filmmaking has to offer.” Shown for one week to schoolchildren across the city, the festival, which describes her documentary as “illuminating how two regions, separated by thousands of miles, are ecologically interconnected,” will then host a Zoom author event in which the students can engage in a Q&A which Smith herself.
Smith, by the way, doesn’t just train her talents on winged creatures. In yet another ongoing film project, she captures the aerial antics of Gloucester’s falling Greasy Pole walkers. That documentary, which celebrates the spirit of the city’s annual St Peters Fiesta, is well underway.
Gloucester resident Kim Smith is a documentary filmmaker, environmental conservationist, photojournalist, author, illustrator and award-winning landscape designer.
Her documentary “Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly” was released in February. It has been chosen as an official selection at New Haven Documentary, Nature Without Borders International, Flickers’ Rhode Island International , Docs Without Borders , WRPN Women’s International, and Conservation Wildlife film festivals.
It next shows at the Boston International Kids Film Festival (https://bikff.org/schedule/) on Nov. 20 to 22; tickets start at $20. Links to view the film will be provided upon ticket purchase.
As I was leaving, Heidi and I crossed paths on the footbridge. What a joy to be replaced each day by Heidi and have a moment of good conversation, something I am sure many of us are not getting enough of during the pandemic.
The raker had not yet come but Dad and Marshmallow were peacefully foraging down at the Creek. More bathing, preening, floofing, and flippy floppy flying thing, with only the Killdeers causing Dad to leave his post.
A heartfelt thank you to all our Ambassadors, Mayor Sefatia, Dave Rimmer from Greenbelt, Councilor Memhard, PiPl Friends, City Council, GDP, GPD, and all who are lending a hand and good wishes for Marshmallow reaching the tremendous milestone of 28 days, tremendous in the way that, thanks to you all, he is getting off to an excellent start, despite growing up in our most highly trafficked and wildly popular City beach. Only (roughly) two more weeks to go <3
Have a great day!
xxKimMarshmallow preening after bathing
Thank you Tom! Another perspicacious Tom Hauck Letter to the Gloucester Daily Times (May 16 editorial page), calling them once again on their uber-conservative far-right editorial bias:
To the editor:
Just when you think it’s safe to read the Times again, another zinger appears that gets reasonable readers riled up. The case in point is the editorial of May 11 entitled “Partisanship has no place in League of Women Voters.” The issue is a series of TV ads run by the national and state League of Women Voters criticizing Senator Scott Brown for a vote he cast on four environmental bills. The Times characterized the ads as “nasty,” “shameful,” and “vicious.” To support the editorial, the Times quoted a press release from Senator Brown’s office and provided a statement from Tim Buckley, who is the state GOP spokesperson. As would be expected, Senator Brown and Mr. Buckley thought the ads attacking the senator were unfair and partisan.
For some reason the Times either failed to contact the state or national LWV to get their side of the story, or did not report the results of any attempted contact. Therefore it is incumbent upon readers of the Times to do their own investigating.
The ads are running in Massachusetts and also in Missouri, where they target Senator Claire McCaskill, who is a Democrat. Here is what Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters, says on the LVW website: “Air pollution is a life or death issue. Senators Brown and McCaskill cast dangerous votes that put public health at risk…Voting to block clean air standards is bad for America and deadly for many Americans.” The LVW website also says, “The campaign includes 30-second spots that point to the public health consequences of the Senators’ April 6 votes. The ads depict a child suffering from respiratory illness and ask viewers to consider the votes and ‘imagine what it could’ve done – to her.’”
The website states that the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts and the League of Women Voters Missouri joined in this effort, and that the League has been a strong and active supporter of the Clean Air Act.
The League’s ad campaign, which targets both a Republican and a Democrat, is non-partisan. It does not present anything that is not factual: both Senators Brown and McCaskill voted in favor of four amendments that would have crippled the bipartisan Clean Air Act, which was signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, a Republican. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said, “The Senate stood up for children and families by defeating four amendments that would have interfered with EPA’s efforts to protect the health and safety of the American public. The Clean Air Act has had strong bipartisan support since it was passed overwhelmingly by Congress and signed into law by President Nixon. The American people support EPA’s efforts to safeguard us from polluters.”
If the Times chooses to adopt an editorial policy that is to the right of the majority of Cape Ann voters, that is the paper’s prerogative. But to present an editorial that parrots the public statements of one political party is reprehensible. Readers of the Times deserve the full story.
A thought-provoking succinctly stated published letter to the editor of the Gloucester Daily Times, in support of Governor Duval Patrick, written by my husband Tom Hauck:
In their attempts to sway Massachusetts voters, Republican candidates, including Charlie Baker and Bill Hudak, offer the seductive elixir of tax cuts as the cure for our economic woes and the way to revitalize our economy. We have heard this merry tune before, and we should know that it hasn’t worked in the past and won’t work again.
“Supply-side economics” states that by lowering economic barriers for people to produce or supply goods and services, the result is economic growth. These barriers to supply are lowered not by investing, but by reducing income tax and capital gains tax rates, and by reducing government regulation. In theory, the result is an expanded economy that leads to an increase in tax revenue.
The Reagan administration was the first to implement supply-side policies. President Reagan promised that the government could maintain expenditures, cut tax rates, and balance the budget. It didn’t happen. Government revenues fell sharply from levels that would have been realized without the Reagan tax cuts. Reagan entered office in 1980 with a $79.0 billion budget deficit. By September 1988, the deficit had ballooned to $2.6 trillion – over thirty times as large. Meanwhile, a reduction in the top marginal individual income tax rate from 70% to 28% helped to widen the gap between the rich and the poor. The theory was that by helping the rich get richer, wealth would “trickle down” to the middle class. This was nonsense. The rising tide did not lift all boats, only the yachts of the wealthy.
Reagan’s successor, George H.W. Bush, was forced to raise taxes to offset the massive federal deficit caused by a recession and low tax revenues. For his courage he was (and still is) vilified by the far-right wing of the Republican Party.
Members of Reagan’s own staff have repudiated supply-side economics. Most recently, in a New York Times op-ed piece of July 31, 2010, David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan, says, “If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. . . It is unseemly for the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, to insist that the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase.”
Republicans have a recurring habit of wanting to play Santa Claus to the voters. They hand out irresponsible tax cuts like candy at a holiday party. Then the economy sours and the Republicans stand back while Democrats come in and do the dirty work of restoring tax rates to former levels. Once the economy is healthy again, the Republicans howl about the terrible Democrats increasing taxes. It is a tiresome routine that voters should reject on November 2 in favor of realistic, progressive solutions to the challenges facing our state. We don’t need Santa Claus promising unsustainable tax cuts. To elect leaders willing to make tough decisions, vote for Deval Patrick and John Tierney.