weSPARK Creative Writers



Mentoring a Creative Writing Class for weSPARK has been a remarkable experience for me, and I feel very blessed and honored to have met some wonderful people in this process. As a non-profit that is “dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients, weSPARK has become “home” for many people trying to survive the chaotic events around cancer. My husband died of pancreatic cancer (2011) and recently (2016) my dear sister died with kidney/brain cancer. The suffering of everyone involved, the people with cancer and the people who love them, is inescapable and incalculable.  After Roger died, I fell apart. Slowly, I rebuilt my psyche and forged a new life. One of the tools I used to do this was writing and that resulted in a book: Memory Clouds: Good Grief Bad Grief. 

Regardless of any success for my work, my life has continued to bloom and soar in all directions. I owe that, in part, to the benefits I get from writing.

Working with the beautiful, talented people in my class at weSPARK, which lasted four sessions, specifically helped me process the grief surrounding the recent cancer death of my sister. We all have to deal with grief eventually. I suggest writing as one way to help in process.

The following poems and scenes were generated

from our class.

For the poetry, I gave everyone the same two prompts (one of the prompts was the picture of the ocean at the heading of this intro). The diversity of subjects is a testament for the variety of talent in our class. For the scene descriptions, I asked the writers to describe a place using our five senses. Out of this, I asked them to come up with characters to step into their scenes and talk, and that dialogue was read with great enthusiasm in class.

Many thanks to the writers who are sharing their work (see below).

My heart to yours,




An Homage to Friends Seen and Unseen by Beth Brown

The life I knew quickly came to a halt.

I think I hear the attempts to communicate

Or is it a way for me to really listen to my longing heart?

In the middle of this chaos, I finally heard the laughter…

Laughter from another place


Reassurance that life goes on


Now with me, more present, more alive

Sometimes I feel freer than ever before

Those on another plane have come to my aide with grace

Are they the saviors of the world?

Are these the new mediators?

Somehow many others have heard my cries


Seen friends new and old have also aided me with grace


Advice, comfort, and delicious delights

Either way, I gratefully accept the support whether

Spiritual or corporeal

Three Haiku by Joyce Kane

Acolyte pilot

Lands aircraft, eager to set

His suicide bomb


Bodhissattva swoons

Buddha’s hand lifts, flame ignites

Love explodes on earth


Squirrel toes red bark

Six nipples, soft dangling cones

Claws clasping acorn

 Three Poems by Andrea de Lange

Tranquil Night – Limerick

There’s magic at twilight, tonight
Colors pop in the glimmering light.

The jasmine’s in bloom,

And there’s plentiful room

For the feeling that all is alright



The scent of jasmine is thick as a fog

It fills me up and feeds my soul.

Its essence soothes my mind

And the tension drips away

My muscles surrender to the newness of calm

At this moment, it seems all is right in the world


Tranquil Knight

He was a tranquil guy

Not your typical knight.

He spent his spare time

Writing poems and whittling wood.

He wasn’t aggressive,

And didn’t like to fight.

He’d rather be daydreaming,

And finding figures in the clouds.

Like most knights, he was loyal,

And chivalrous to the core.

Luckilly for him,

There was peace, and not war.

Poem by Sara Davenport

She climbs.

The ache of her bones comforts her.

She knows the dirt, but not the ground she explores.

She does not look back at the cold unmoving calm.

Only Forward

Searching outward

Trying to catch the wind.

Tranquility by Jan Finer

To have some faith and trust would help

Allay my frequent fears.

The worries and the what ifs

Have plagued me through the years.

I’ve often felt I’m doomed to stress

And can’t claim calm and mellowness.

My goal, in life, will always be

To conquer what now conquers me.

Lullaby and Goodnight By Lynn Smolen

Lullaby and Goodnight, a touch of madness in my prison of eternal life.

I sat upon a rock. Here the earth met the sky, the horizon peaked through the night in the moonlight a path in the water broken by the rising dorsal fin slicing through its surface. Its silent assent blended with the crashing waves. I watched it come. So like me, the mighty hunter, the Great White Shark. Behind me sea lions slumbered. Not knowing what waits for them in the coming dawn.

Another lay upon the sand. His blood still warm upon my lips. He wore the mark of the vampire on his neck.

Foolish man. He, who hunts with his crosses and stakes, knows not who he trifles with.

I stood upon the rock, the wind had risen. I raised my arms and turned into it and vanished as I came.

Heart shape tree on green grass field. Love symbol, banner


The Vineyard by Sara Davenport

Row after row of knobbed and twisted Ts reaching out for their caretakers offering fruit in exchange for water. Edges of the grounds are lined with olive trees dropping slippery seeds leaving streaks of heavy oils on the ground. Jasmine awakes as morning glories nod their heads into slumber, their perfumes cling to the ar. Bees pass by humming while they work, building the terroir in the dusty afternoon haze.

Five Senses by Joyce Kane

The smooth, pastel green and white tree stands proud and tall, covered with rough, thick, orange sheaths peeling off in chunks. Rust, grey and brown patterns snake and intertwine like fingers across the pale trunk, creating strange shapes like an abstract painting. A squirrel head with pink cheeks and button eyes peers out between curving strips of shining sienna skin. A forlorn man with one big, hollow eye holds a walking stick, a black feather falling from his brow.   A brown baby elephant sits on his haunches, reaching down with his thin snout. A man with round, white eyes and a funny khaki hat stares at nothing. Long, rectangular strips of wet, yellow bark bend and lift up, revealing glowing lime wood speckled with tiny pinpoint holes. Raindrops glisten as they run in rivulets over interlacing patches of red and brown bark. A breeze streams drizzle through the air.

Leaves gently rustle, then shiver in waves high above, crinkling like paper. Long, thin, pointed chartreuse blades drop like spinning darts down onto muddy grass. The fresh, invigorating smell of mint wafts with the damp air. I breathe deeply, the scent filling my lungs. I lick cool, soft rain on my lips, taste the fresh water on my tongue—grateful for the swaying, majestic eucalyptus in the storm.

I Was There…Were You? The 80’s by Beth Brown

(The Atlanta Limelight)

Thump. Thump. Thump. The bass was hypnotic. Where was my friend? We’d come here together and now…I don’t know. But, all the beautiful people dressed in crushed velvet, boots, gold chains, and fringe were there. Strobe lights illuminated the rhythm of the dancers on the floor, on the dancing platforms above the masses and even glistened off the koi and gold fish swimming underneath the dance floor. Where was I? We’d come here out of curiosity, and though I thought I’d never been here before, it seemed familiar. Red ropes and green velvet curtains hid the activities behind me where I now suspected my friend to be. Thump. Thump. Thump. It was loud.

I sipped at a drink that was sickly sweet and took an empty seat at a previously occupied table. The place was glamorous and fantastical, but had a familiarity to it that I couldn’t place. Observing the layout, I noticed the long railing behind me, the circular pattern of the room and the barely noticeable but still there, the tragic/comedy masks of theatre hanging above the dance floor like a guiding star to someone who would notice. Is that a Gloria Gaynor song playing?

The dance floor is packed and I’m bored. I concentrate on the Muses above and the realization hit me. The Harlequin Dinner Theatre had been my refuge from engineering school. Here it was turned into what I now decided to be a tacky garish nightclub despite its international clientele. I closed my eyes and images of Molly Brown, The Music Man and other memorable dates came flashing through. How long had I been in my naïve fog before strong pressure on my right shoulder wakened me from my innocent memories. “You can’t sleep in here!” The baritone voice boomed. As if I could. Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” began to crescendo as I looked around and saw my friend parting a green velvet curtain and straightening her dress.

The House on the Side of the Hill by Beth Brown

SCREECH! CRASH! Expletives from a fourteen-year-old boy as he sees what has happened. I looked out of my bedroom window and saw where our brown Pontiac station wagon had hit a Loblolly pine tree. He was driving. I decided to run away. My mother had 132 acres of Loblolly pine trees and knowing the reaction from my father, I could hide out in these woods for a while until the crisis calmed. I called out to one of our mixed breed dogs (part English shepherd, German shepherd collie) to follow me. Skipper had the markings like an Appaloosa horse and was a gentle, sweet dog. I left my room and began to walk fast and then run away from the hissing car and agitated two years younger brother. I could still hear him cursing in the background. I ran through the un-manicured woods and down overgrown trails away from the known paths to the three acre pond. This trail was not familiar and I knew these woods. Blackberry bushes covered parts of the path. They scratched me as I carried on to the end of Mama’s property.

I had now been running about twenty minutes when Skipper and I came to a clearing. The scent from the pines was soothing, and the sight of the rock in the sun was welcome. I sat. The panting dog next to me received a special hug for staying with me. Suddenly he ran off. I peered in the direction he was running and decided to follow him. There before me was a stopped-up stream glistening in the sunlight. Skipper was lapping up water. I looked farther down the stream and to my surprise, I saw three beavers working on their masterpiece. This sight took my mind off the previous events. I don’t know how long I observed them, but I began to notice the afternoon shadows in these woods.

Finding a stump to rest on, I began observing the surroundings. Across the stream and up a hill, more water streamed out of a pipe. I peered further up the side of the hill and saw it. The house was old. The grey horizontal slats were loose. The porch on the left side was leaning because the rocks holding it up were settling in the pine covered ground. The windows were dirty and the screen-door as well as the front door was closed. Wow. I didn’t know anyone lived here. It was on the other side of the stream and it wasn’t my mother’s land, so I just observed. Skipper didn’t seem to notice. As the shadows deepened, I decided to go back home hoping that the crisis had been resolved.

The next day I relayed my experience to my mother and father. They seemed surprised as they knew of no one that lived there either. My father was so curious that he took me to the neighbors and asked them about that area of their land. When I described the house, skeptical looks were exchanged. The neighbor flatly stated, “That house was there about one hundred years ago, just after the Civil War, but it burned down a long time ago and nothing is there now.” In that part of the country, my observations could make me a suspicious character, so we left quietly and never told anyone outside the family. My brother, though, was happy with this distraction as it took the emphasis off of his accident.

The Devil Has Three Faces  (Sherlock) By Lynn Smolen

A closed red floor length curtain was pushed open by a hand disturbing a layer of dust into the air. Sounds blanketed by the closed window were lost as he looked down into the London hustle and bustle of night life, where street lights cast their beams into the fray of moving headlights with the scurrying traffic below, as the glass in the window reflected his shadowed face.

He stood in profile holding a glass of spirits and sipped at it lazily, letting the tartness of its flavor coat his tongue and the heated swallow spread down into his chest. He turned slightly, street light advancing to engulf two thirds of his face and neck polishing his pale skin to a brilliance. His hair black as night was a curly mop cut short, partially covering his ears with fluffed bangs that lay upon his forehead. Elegantly shaped eyebrows were crowns for the beauty of his hypnotizing eyes. Eyes like a cat, pupils black framed by the almost colorlessness of light blue rimmed in black eyelashes. His nose straight was shadowed on one side. Prominent cheek bones gave him an air of nobility. His lips were soft and curved above a strong chin. He was a tall man, standing straight as his youth demanded. His frame was thin covered with an open beige dressing gown over a light blue shirt unbuttoned at the neck and dark trousers, the hem of the dressing gown ending inches above his shoes in total summation of the disposition of his countenance.

He let the curtain go and moved into the room pacing about as a creeping annoyance and a sense of restlessness began to consume him. He stopped and downed the last contents of his glass and put the empty container on a small round pedestal table. Trying to restore balance to his good nature he picked up his violin and bow placing the instrument under his chin, his hand caressing the aged wood. He put the bow to the strings while his bony fingers keyed them and began to play the haunting tune of Danny Boy. Behind him a fire burned brightly in the hearth chasing away the lingering coldness in the corners of the room.

The sweet smell of burning logs filled the flat. On the mantle under a square mirror a human skull rested on a circular box. Adjacent to it was an ivory handled knife, its blade sunk into a pile of unopened letters. A framed­-pinned vampire bat amid various beetles was resting against the wall. Comfortable armchairs, one covered in a plaid throw, the other cushioned in black leather stood on either side.

A lamp burned bright on a mahogany desk littered with papers and a lap top computer. Bookcases with many volumes stacked and slanted nestled on shelves that lined the walls. Multiple rows of black Fleur de lis-like patterns on tan wallpaper behind a brown couch clashed with the red Persian rug on a dark wood floor.

The music ceased as he felt the whisper of breath upon his ear and coated arms encircled his waist. He spoke, the deep richness of his voice tipped with mounting hostility, “You are late. I was beginning to think you were not coming.”

“Not so late. Don’t be angry,” she said resting her head upon the back of his shoulder. “You know I could never resist the invitation to dine with you.”

The devil has three faces.

“No, you couldn’t.” He replied pulling away from her and putting down the violin and bow. He crossed the room removing his dressing gown tossing it on the couch as he went to a closet opened it and took out a scarf wrapping it about his neck. He removed a coat from the hanger and shrugged into it turning the collar down. From the inside coat pocket he removed a small pull out magnifier and from the outer pocket a pair of black leather gloves. He put them on a shelf above the rack of long topcoats. The shelf stacked with blankets and pillows.

“Fool,” he muttered to himself as he put his hand under the blankets and removed a folded knife and put it it the outer pocket of the coat. He shut the closet and buttoned up the coat as he walked to the door of the flat. He opened it gesturing her out with a sweep of his hand. She passed him and waited on the landing of a descending back staircase leading down into a hallway as he shut the door behind him. He passed her quickly and went down first with her following.

“You are famous you know,” she said from behind him catching up. “How do you feel about that bloody awful name the London Times has given you?”

He stopped his descent, turned and looked up at her. “Ah…the new celebrity of White Chapel…Jack… Jack the ripper. How do I feel about it?”

He smiled broadly and clapped his hands together like an excited child. “Inspired,” punctuated by a click of his tongue. His right hand went into his coat pocket and he caressed the pocket knife within. He turned and continued down the stairs, his good humor restored. He reached the bottom and proceeded down the hallway, stopped at a mirror on the wall and pushed back the fallen locks on his brow before opening the outside door for her as they went out down two steps onto the sidewalk.

On the pavement she said along side of him. “You know he’s looking for you?”

He laughed then. The warmth of his breath dropping onto the cold air in a puff as he said, with an over confident air, ”Who? That idiot detective on Baker Street. Not a chance in hell he will ever find me.”

“Don’t be too sure,” she said as he went into the street to hail a cab.

In the distance Big Ben chimed the quarter. Bong…Bong…Bong.

Heart Repaired


Hey You

Hey you,
I send you kisses.
I send you my mouth –
full of a fine dry Italian wine.
The oak perfume lingers
around our lips touching,
while tongues search
soft insides of petals and stems.
I send you the heavy air from my lungs,
full of bright red blood,
as I write dull black lines
on a scrap of tree that will never
be seen by your epic eyes.
The pregnant air hangs all around with our dreams,
and our potent idea of two people locked arm in arm:
in that moment – safe,
in that moment – alive.
Hey you, I send you kisses,
and a piece of tile washed back to me
from the windswept sea. This piece
of clay, only less than the life we knew,
now holds my hand, and on an occasion such as this,
I almost hear the buried sound of you saying,
‘Hey you, there you are…’

On The Beach ©2005

The Last Time I Saw JD 1997

Below is a PDF excerpt to finish my thought on the Youtube video where I got cut off talking about the last time I saw John in the flesh. Sorry, but I don’t own the video and I was grateful to get that much. (Thanks, JoLynn Long!)

My book can be found here: Memory Clouds on Amazon

Note: You may have to click on the PDF link to open in your browser or download it.

All Rights Reserved ©2017

Keilor’s Poetry Club Chap. 2

Such as it is More or Less

Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892) occupied a lot of my head space in the 90s. I read, re-read Leaves of Grass like I consumed the KJV Bible growing up. He started out as a newspaper reporter in New York, but his passion blossomed into a free-style poetry, so new in the time of strict Victorian verses, a new style—a free wheelin’ man just like his ramblin’ man picture on the cover.


No stuffed shirt here. And rolling with the Transcendentalist movement in the air around him, he boldly wrote a “Song of Myself”. His line, “The quadroon girl is sold at the auction-stand”, sailed me into another direction.

So, I added a poem to this Chapter. Nikki Giovanni is a woman of color and I think she fits in this Chapter.

Unfortunately, even though her poem was written years ago, it is, as it is in our culture at the moment, more or less. 

Feel free to comment on Nikki’s poem or any other in Chapter 2 in the comment section below.


By: Nikki Giovanni

I killed a spider

Not a murderous brown recluse

Nor even a black widow

And if the truth were told this

Was only a small

Sort of papery spider

Who should have run

When I picked up the book

But she didn’t

And she scared me

And I smashed her

I don’t think

I’m allowed

To kill something

Because I am


Yolande Cornelia “Nikki” Giovanni Jr.[1][2] (born June 7, 1943) is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the world’s most well-known African-American poets, her work includes poetry anthologies, poetry recordings, and nonfiction essays, and covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children’s literature. She has won numerous awards, including the Langston Hughes Medal and the NAACP Image Award. She has been nominated for a Grammy Award for her poetry album, The Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection.

Grief is Not a Choice*

Connie, Ashlee. Roger and Cimcie at his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Chapter in 2006.

When I picked up Roger’s iPhone, after his last breath, a long time passed before I remembered to breathe. I froze. Some people do feint at the sight of death; maybe they forget to breathe? I was amazed that I could breathe. But why was I breathing and not him? Why did Roger, who exercised and didn’t smoke or abuse drugs/alcohol get this horrible Pancreatic Cancer?

Rog Con Malibu 79 Crop
Malibu, 1979

When distant gods and empty creeds offer no respite and no answers to this “why” issue, what’s a sensitive soul like me to do? Somehow, the pain and inner voices are guiding me to write Memory Clouds, especially for myself, but maybe reach out to others struggling with grief and lingering “why” questions. After all, misery loves company. But something or someone? won’t let me die with Roger, no matter how much I wish to on some days.

Most days, I still find myself frozen in shock, really fear. I lost someone I’d shared most of my life with–over 33 years of the good and the not-so-good, but it was ALL OURS—our children, our animals, our home, our dates, our triumphs, our tragedies. How the hell can I go on without him to face the money problems, the unfinished projects we’d both worked hard on, and just when it seemed the financial stability that our efforts over decades so richly deserved had finally started–the new coveted steady jobs, why, oh why did he have to die now?

Intellectually, I knew it would never be a good time for him to die, but where was my head? All I knew was a broken heart. Everything was gone: my lover; my friend; my confidant; all the life I knew. Even our old dog, Spookie, chose to die three days after Roger.Rog Spookie FB picmonkey Cowards! Get back here and help me! Who was going to pick up the dead bird in the yard or fix the garbage disposal or hold my hand while we watch the sunset or walk our daughters down the aisle at their weddings or go with me to the doctor or not care that I needed to lose 30 pounds? Each new minute in this new reality after Roger died still delivers different, shocking fears.

When I finally got some counseling, after I thawed out a bit, Ginette Paris, a wise woman with a PhD in Psychology and a twinkly eye, suggested that I not ask “why.” Not only is this asking “why” not helpful, but also by asking the unanswerable “why”, we get stuck in a destructive loop of always asking “why”? It seems that this “why” remains elusive for many things in life like sickness, greed, war or death. But “why” I ask. I’m stubborn that way.

In scanning our limitless Universe, all I know for certain is there will always be more questions for the inquisitive mind. Answering one question will just open up the door to another one. Ask “why” but don’t expect any definitive answers. Why birth? Why do we breathe air? What I do know is this: if you’ve been something to somebody (s)he will grieve when you die. Grieve, I do. This part of life is bad, bad, bad grief, being the one left behind—the fear immobilizing.

In some circumstances fear would be a good thing, if I was a zebra on the Serengeti running from lions. But when the lions leave, zebras totally relax. Not so with humans. We carry our angst on the tip of our tongues, buried inside our bodies like a steaming hot mess ready to boil over at the least provocation. At some tipping point, too much fear, too much grief and your body shuts down. Mine did. I just felt numb. I couldn’t move.

Will I survive this? How does anyone? Can I stop asking “why” questions? Time will tell. No matter how it happens: divorce, abandonment or death, it’s loss beyond words. But, grief is not a choice.

*Update: I wrote this 23 June 2012, the day I started writing Memory Clouds: Good Grief Bad Grief and as of 27 Nov 2018 I am grateful to be alive and enjoying my life in this next chapter ;).”

Connie Hermosillo
Conrad Reeder

Fire! Fire! Fire!

Thomas Fire on Ridge
5 a.m. 13 Dec 2017. At night, I can really see the flames—ominous, chewing away, melting everything in its path. A spiraling flare of tremendous red that looks big from where I sit miles away means large things are burning, big trees, maybe big buildings, maybe oil business paraphernalia and then comes the black smoke, which contains the particles of a hotter fire that’s extinguished items of purpose, now some new old purpose.

The fire keeping me awake this dark morning is on the peak of a mountain ridge across the Upper Ojai Valley in Southern California from where I sit on a deck that didn’t burn in the fire when it came through here. This valley, my valley on a plateau that stretches between Ojai Town and Santa Paula for about ten miles is burned through, so they say, although earlier this night a house across the road that survived the #thomasfire caught fire when the electricity was restored. Seems to me the fire gods are having their own say. Little pockets of smoke reveal fires in our yard and all over the hills from roots slowly burning which may take weeks. Some smoldering fires are oil seeps, a local item that springs up along fractures in the earth in this part of the world and they may burn a long, long time.

There are many big fires still burning all over Southern California: Thomas, Skirball, Sylmar, Lilac, probably more. Without TV or reliable Internet, it’s hard to keep up. No rain for months coupled with 70mph Santa Ana winds lit up the sky around me nine days ago and with little warning, Eric and I with our precious dog, Rocco, drove away fast with flames all around.

The #thomasfire, my fire, burned up and spewed out everything around my abode: cars (my car), homes, ancient oaks, animals trapped in barns (not my animals), trailers, garages, fences, pictures, tools, golf clubs, books, family heirlooms, family Christmas ornaments…the animals trapped in barns haunt me in my sleep.

But by some miracle the house did not burn. But why not? Not one window broke in this wood Victorian, including the fireplace logs leaning against the house. Maybe the recently watered grass and trees that surround the house, maybe the wind changed or maybe the fire gods didn’t need it on their march, doing what they do, burn, burn, burn.

The irony is we create our own disasters by doing what we do, building things where fires have always burned, but where on the planet is there not Nature calamities for human-born projects? Flood, tornadoes, hurricanes…btw Nature runs things on this rock, in case we all forgot. We are merely allowed to reside in the beauty for a very brief span of time.

On this day many of my memories and the comforts of home for a lot of my neighbors now reside in piles of ash, totally unrecognizable from their previous state. The remarkable thing about humans is the desire to mold that dust back into some sort of tangible thing to hold or love whether it be a structure or a handmade quilt. This valley is so unique, so beautiful, I bet they’ll all rebuild. Maybe it’s easier for me, having already gone through the process of losing my home and precious belongings in some other disaster seven years ago. I survived and my life got better. And if old-timers know, I’m told the fires are done with me, for now. But I keep my mother’s quilt nearby just in case we need to run again.

6 a.m. Dawn. The rooster just crowed!  I thought he was dead because of his silence these past nine days. I know it’s the one before the fire because he has a particular skrackle-doo. What a great morning! And anyway, I can’t see flames in the daylight.

Memory Clouds

Given all the grief floating around this planet, another book about “one woman’s journey” may sound like a snooze, but, at least, I’ve had an interesting life with some amazing characters like John Denver, Ginette Paris, Roger Nichols, Joy Monroe McConnell, Paul Rothchild, Donald Fagan, Walter Becker (Steely Dan), Dorotha Stephens etc., and I’m willing to write about some of it.  😉

Memory Clouds is my offering to the “searching person” book-glut in the market. It’s also about my discovery of goddesses (and gods 😀) inhabiting every bush, every last bottle and circling all the skyscrapers. New Age mumbo-jumbo aside, I also wrote my way out of committing a justifiable revenge act and found some tools to help me bloom again.

Matilija Poppy Crop

Everglades Bill Tarnished

C. Reeder

Opportunists seeking to undermine the average citizens’ right to challenge environment damaging permits, tacked on an amendment to the much anticipated Everglades Bill HB813 in the final hour of the Legislature session that ended March 22, bypassing public debate and now awaiting the signature of Governor Bush.

The amendment sponsors, incoming Senate President Jim King and Rep. Gaston Cantens, R-Miami, argue, “If that person fishes in the water body to be altered by a permit… theywill have standing.”  But environmental attorney, Tom Reese, who uses the specific statute under attack to enforce Florida’s environmental laws for Sierra Club and others, states “this legislation reverses 30 years of (a) citizen’s ‘standing’ right.”

Under the new guidelines only an environmental organization in existence a year with at least 25 members living in the county where the permit is being sought can challenge projects, leaving the language open to interpretation by the courts. For example, Reese notes that the bill refers to citizens. State law defines citizens as Florida residents or corporations, which could exclude corporations like the Sierra Club, incorporated in California.

Desperate, many environmentalists including, Eric Draper, Audubon’s director of conservation, lamented, “We can’t fund Everglades restoration and buy the land we need to buy without that bill”, with Audubon Vice President Charles Lee saying they’d worked to amend it to make it acceptable, since the bill doesn’t specifically prohibit a single ‘citizen’ from challenging permits.

However, a decade ago, environmentalists living in Sarasota County worried about the effect on the regional drinking water supply if the Consolidated Minerals mine went forward sucking out ‘this huge amount of groundwater,” according to David Guest, a lawyer who represented the group. They sued and blocked the mine. Although Guest doesn’t think Bush should veto the bill, because of its importance for the Everglades, even he admits “This bill would have foreclosed our participation.”

Rep. Cindy Lerner, D-Miami, one of 37 House members who voted against it reminds us all, “Public participation in the process is the cornerstone…of a democratic state.”

Sierra Club, Florida Consumer Action Network, 1000 Friends of Florida, Save the Manatee Club and 50 more groups join Attorney General Bob Butterworth in opposing the tarnished Everglades bill, and urge Governor Bush to veto the bill on his desk, call a special session of the Florida Legislature and remove the offending language.

The citizen’s of Florida deserve a bi-partisan bill eagerly awaited by all working to save what’s left of this country’s only sub-tropical kingdom and allow the state to sell bonds to pay for its share of cleansing the Everglades without any erosion of civil rights or gifts to special interests.

Article appeared on the Sierra Club Florida Chapter Website March 2002.

The Captive: A Tale of Weetamoo and Mary

In a land and time not far away, a Native American Queen lived by the name of Weetamooo. Her culture had survived thousands of years until disease and a religion sparked a movement that destroyed her world in just a few generations.

As Weetamoe and her allies battled the English colonists,  warriors captured a Puritan minister’s wife by the name of Mary Rowlandson. For a brief period, Mary was Weetamoe’s slave.

A play and a future novel (2019) by Conrad Reeder, The Captive, revolves around the story of these two women from stridently different worlds who are caught up in a fight for survival during King Philip’s War (1675-76). The entire landscape of New England would be forever changed by this war. As for the two women–one survived the war, the other was reborn a legend.

© Conrad Reeder
All Rights Reserved

Painting: Indian Princess by Anthony Gruerio