The Lookouts of Big Sur

Here is my latest article for Voices of Monterey Bay:

In the fall of 1984, Soaring Jenkins and future husband Isa Starkey climbed up Cone Peak for the first time. She made it up the 2¼-mile trail — cussing, sweating — and there met Ruth Albee, who’d been a lookout in various places for a decade.

Ruth “was in her 60s and loved the trail I’d just sworn at,” Jenkins said. “But I looked around and fell deeply, instantly in love with the tiny glass room and the wide expanse of ocean and mountain views. I told her I wanted to be a lookout and she said, ‘Go ahead and apply here; I’m going to work next year at Chews Ridge Lookout.’”

It was that easy. Jenkins was a lookout there for the next six years and she says she did it for the love of the place. Other Big Sur fire lookouts I know say they do it out of a feeling of service and duty. It’s a way to give back to Big Sur.

Though it was one of the most difficult and isolated lookouts in California, Jenkins-Starkey told me that “I wanted that job more than anything, I felt a strong magnetic pull to be there, yearned for it, and learned everything I could through the Fire Brigade training, to prepare for it.”

For the rest of the article, including interviews with Nadine Clark, of Big Sur, and Scott McClintock, of the Federal Fire Lookouts Association, on the Chew’s Ridge Lookout Program, see https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2020/01/02/they-look-out-for-us/ :

“I had a May Sarton quote taped next to my desk: ‘Loneliness is the poverty of self, solitude is the richness of self,’” said Jenkins-Starkey. “It got me through a lot. After I’d been there several years I began to feel that everyone ought to have a long, long period of solitude to learn the contents of their mind, to learn how to exist, to just be, instead of always doing something.”

Learn the contents of one’s mind through solitude. I like that.

Christmas Story — Esselen tribe to get their land back…

…At least some of it. “Although the history of Native American indigenous peoples have unquestionably been filled with hardship, the Esselen Tribe in California—maybe the smallest native tribe in the country—has perhaps struggled the most. But now, thanks to a historic deal, it has gotten its land back.

“Forcibly converted to Christianity by Spanish missionaries, pulled into missions for tutoring, and exploited for forced labor, the number of remaining descendants from their tribe located in Big Sur is so small that in 2010, the Bureau of Indian Affairs denied their request to be recognized as a tribe and given tribal status.

“Recently, however, California authorities managed to raise $37 million for 21 different cultural and city projects, including a $4.5 million grant to buy a large tract of ancestral Esselen land as part of the Esselen Tribal Lands Conservation Project.

“The 1,199-acre ranch, once owned by a Swedish man named Alex Adler, runs along the Little Sur Coast near the Central California shore where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise above the Pacific Ocean.

Tracts of old-growth oak and redwoods, grasslands, and chaparral cover the area where the Spanish missionaries first encountered the Esselen during their travels north through California. Thanks to the grant, the Esselen are no longer landless; the forests and fields where their ancestors lived are theirs once more to continue the traditions of the past.

“This is one of the first times a tribe has gotten its land back,” Tom Little Bear Nason told Monterey County Now. “We consider the place sacred and we intend to protect it. We will use it to preserve our traditions.”

“Nason, who heads the Esselen Tribe of Monterey, a nonprofit set up in June to accept ownership of the ranch, also added that there will be no commercialization of the land and their culture, although they do plan to allow small tour groups to visit and learn from their settlement a few times a year.”

For the rest of this article click on: https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/smallest-native-californian-tribe-gifted-their-own-land/

Special Screening — short film on Big Sur, responsibility, and tourism

The screening will begin at 7:30 sharp. 
The film is about twenty minutes long. 

Directly following the screening will be a public Q&A session with the film makers along with a panel of selected community members –about the film, the future of Big Sur, the interaction with visitors, responsible travel and more!

*This is a FREE screening*

The event starts at 7pm
The screening starts at 7:30
Come as you are. 
Tea, coffee, and light snacks will be provided 

The Story of a Redwood Tree

Here is the story published in Voices today:

By Kate Woods Novoa

It was a clear, sunny December morning when one of the beloved redwoods at the Henry Miller Library cracked and came down. It took out the fence but missed the library building. It was December 2, 2012.

Soon after this magnificent tree hit the ground, Magnus Toren, executive director of the library, thought of a way to honor the fallen redwood and also to help fund the library. He did not want this tree to simply rot and return to the ground as compost. He would turn it into slabs and auction them off. With the assistance of two others and they were able to obtain 38 beautiful slabs to sell out of this one tree. The process took more than three months to finish.

Two auctions of these legendary slabs have already been held, and they yielded $110,000 for the library. On Sunday, Oct. 6, the last dozen slabs will be auctioned off at the library. 

The auction is a chance to purchase 500 years of Big Sur history. 

The Henry Miller Library was created by Emil White, a longtime friend of the artist and writer who authored groundbreaking works of fiction like “Tropic of Cancer.” Located in Big Sur, 35 miles south of Carmel-by-the-Sea on Highway 1, the library occupies White’s former home. It is a public benefit, non-profit organization championing Miller’s literary, artistic and cultural contributions. Shortly after I moved to Big Sur in 1985, I had the pleasure of meeting Emil at the library. He was quite the “ladies man,” even into his 80s, and literally latched on to me for a bit.

The rest of my article can be read here: https://voicesofmontereybay.org/2019/10/03/the-story-of-a-redwood-tree/