Chinese Food, Beer, and an Idea

This past January, Dan and I went out for lunch at one of his favorite Chinese restaurants. As we caught up with the normal family niceties, had a beer, and made our second trip to the buffet, our conversation turned dark. While the food was good and the beer cold, we talked of elections, political wrangling, and the overall dismal fate of the arts and conservation. Recent cuts in the support of the arts, the proposed selling of public lands, the loosening and talks of abolishing the Clean Water Act, and a myriad of other equally depressing events drove us to the only readily apparent solution to the darkness.

We had another beer.

Now Dan is an author and poet and I have a love of outdoor writing and art that began when I was a young kid pouring over my grandfather’s Sports Afield and Outdoor Life magazines. Both Dan and I are ardent conservationists who live for the outdoors while volunteering in organizations that protect our environmental and sporting heritage. So out of a sense of real despair, I asked the obvious question, “What can we do to change this if everything seems to be against the things we love and for what we have fought?” Well…

We had another beer.

“We fight ugly with beauty,” was Dan’s surprising response.

With those words an idea was born. What would happen if instead of fighting the forces that are dark with equally dark methods, we celebrate the beauty of the natural world? What would it be like, to put artists and writers together who actually spend a portion of their life in the outdoors? What could they tell us and how could they help us celebrate the gift of clean water, air, and wild places? That was a surprising idea. But to move from an idea to reality would take much more than another beer.

  • John Meachen

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