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Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Tuesday, 9:00 AM.  22 degrees F, wind W, calm.  The sun, like a silvery searchlight, seeks to shine through the gloomy skies.  The barometer is stuck at bottom.  The roads are slippery.  It is winter.
        The last meeting of the Tree Board for Two Thousand Twelve went off even better than I had hoped, although there were only four of us and no quorum, so technically our decisions will carry no weight.  But they were good decisions so we will go with them anyway.  Actually, we committed ourselves to some New Year’s Resolutions.
        First, we observed that we have been operating in something of a vacuum by not being acquainted with our counterparts in the neighboring communities of Ashland and Washburn, and I resolved to contact them and set up a joint meeting in January with the hope that we can eventually establish some common urban forestry goals for our communities, perhaps put together combined orders for trees next spring that will lower purchase and transportation costs, and that we perhaps can submit joint grants to state and federal entities, the three Chamber of Commerces, and the regional utilities.
        Second, we have never reached out as a tree board to the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewas, our neighbors three miles to the north, and we resolved we should do so next year.  There is a great and long tradition of the City of Bayfield and the Red Cliff Reservation talking past each other on any number of issues, and perhaps trees are things we can talk about in common.  Tree board member Howard Paap has many personal contacts among the tribe, and he will undertake that resolution.
        Third, the state highway department is scheduled to repave and improve Hwy. 13 through downtown Bayfield next year, and we have been arguing for the planting of street trees, to little avail.  So all of us have resolved to raise a little hell instead of tip-toeing around and being nice, which seldom accomplishes anything.  We could even pledge to raise money for the trees.
        All in all it was the kind of meeting we should have more often, but hopefully with a quorum.
        I have continued ruminating over the sneaker problem I wrote about in yesterday’s blog, and that has made me not just more agitated, but actually very angry.  There was a tragic fire in a Bangladesh shoe (sneaker) factory last week in which over 100 workers died and hundreds were injured.  It was a seven story sweatshop with no fire escapes, and the fire started on the ground floor.  They never had a chance.  The factory made shoes for Walmart and a number of other stores and brands sold in the US. 
        Here we are, buying shoes which not only are made by virtual slave labor working in deadly conditions, but to top it off our government collects a high import duty that was supposed to encourage American production and jobs but does neither, only raises the price to the American consumer.  It seems to me that two governments, a foreign manufacturer and a number of multinational corporations are all guilty of murder.  We might as well add we Americans who buy these sneakers of death, and the international unions that don’t have the strength of their own convictions. 
        And here I am, a pro-capitalist American, talking like a bomb-throwing Wobbly (Industrial Workers of the World) of a century ago.  But surely there are humanitarian yet rational approaches to such a problem.  This is not free trade, it is a death trade.

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