Blog

A Vanishing Type

The news that former Congressman and state legislator Vern Ehlers has passed away prompts reflection as well as sadness.

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Incompetent? Hardly

While some deride the Trump Administration as clumsy and ineffectual beyond bombast, these critics are forgetting that an Administration is more than the White House. 

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Line 5: Shut it Down, Now

The time has come to shut down Line Five. No more studies, no more excuses. If you’re a politician who talks about how much you value the Great Lakes, you need to back it up with actions.

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We Unite Over Water

In an age of division, people of the Great Lakes continue to come together in a shared devotion to their vast, fresh waters.

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Lake Erie: What’s It Going to Take?

A little more than three years after the Cuyahoga River at Cleveland caught fire in 1969, Congress approved the Clean Water Act.  It’s coming up on three years since a harmful algal bloom shut down the Toledo drinking water supply, and where are we?  We’re hearing predictions of a bigger than average algae bloom in western Lake Erie.

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The Forgotten Great Lake

It’s Huron, and I have lived next to it for two years.  I rarely thought about it until 2015.  Now I think of it every day.

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Line 5 & the Public Trust

If you’re a landlord and your tenant behaves irresponsibly, do you reward his behavior and extend his lease?
Well, you are and you shouldn’t.

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Poison in the Ground

If you live long enough, you will have a chance to see whether your predictions are affirmed or shown to be exaggerated or simply off base.

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Public Health First

All public policy issues cycle in and out of relevance. They’re important for a while, recede for a while, and return. Unfortunately, that’s true even for something that makes life possible — health.

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A Tree Has Fallen

Word came a week ago of the passing of a fierce fighter for a spectacular dune complex in southwest Michigan.  The world may not remember Don Wilson, but it should.

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BLTs and bottles

What do you do when your hosts are making every effort to serve your needs but they unintentionally test your principles? The correct action isn’t always easy to determine.

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The Next Door Opens: FLOW

On Tuesday, April 4, I begin work at a uniquely effective and important organization, Traverse City-based FLOW. Here’s why.

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This Is a Test

The Trump Administration’s proposed slashing of funding for EPA is a good test of public sentiment. 

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Hostile Takeover at EPA

Never, not in the worst times of any federal or state Administration opposed to strong environmental protection, have I seen anything like it.

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How Many Times Do the Porcupine Mountains Need to Be Saved?

Via Michigan Public Radio comes the news that “the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has given the green light to an exploratory copper drilling project…in a one square mile area located on the western edge of Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. ”

This is a stunning development. 

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A Tribute

Tomorrow is my last day on the staff of the International Joint Commission.  It was a profound honor to be a public servant again — and to work for a national treasure.  Her name is Lana Pollack.

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The Freshwater Sea

Watching two freighters pass each other on the chilly waters of Lake Huron today, I was reminded of one of the Michigan authors profiled in Ink Trails II.

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A Remarkable Woman

Sunday would have been the 94th birthday of Helen Milliken, the First Lady of Michigan from 1969 to 1982.

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One More Gift to the Great Lakes?

Although the Presidential election is over, the incumbent remains in power for another 54 days. It’s not much time, but it’s enough for President Obama to take further actions to protect the Great Lakes.

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It’s a bargain

The MSU Press holiday sale gives you 40% off  the Ink Trails books (and many others).

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Burying the Lead

“Burying the lead” is a journalist’s mistake. It’s when the most important part of a story isn’t in, or close to the lead paragraph.

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Dream On

“Both candidates had serious flaws.”

Right — and the Great Lakes and your birdbath both have water.

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The State of the Lakes

In an age of infinite information and 140-character tweets, there’s pressure to tell the story of the world’s most complex freshwater system in cartoons.

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Silent Spring and Michigan

Tuesday was the 54th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring, the seminal work that many credit with sparking the modern environmental role. The importance of Michigan in the book, and the citizen effort to ban “hard pesticides,” is often overlooked.

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Great Lakes and You

Trying to understand what’s happening with the Great Lakes depends in part on understanding what’s happening with the people who live among them.

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A Word for Wargin

After a career lingering in or near the halls of government, I subscribe to the not exactly earth-shattering view that the way to engage the public is not with policy talk, but through the heart. And that’s where Ed Wargin comes in.

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Graceless and Undignified

As the biographer of former Michigan Governor William G. Milliken, I was startled by a recent action of his local Republican Party.

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Limitless Michigan Authors

If the Ink Trails series could continue as long as there are famous and forgotten Michigan authors to profile, it could continue for decades.

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Almost 20 Years Later

This post, dissecting the spiritual disease underlying environmental decline — and the spiritual despair of an advocate — first appeared in 1997. It’s interesting how little has changed. But I affirm the hopeful conclusion. We have no choice but to believe — but only action redeems belief.

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OK, Hemingway

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter of Ink Trails II entitled, Ernest Miller Hemingway: Man and Nature.

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Public Health First

All public policy issues cycle in and out of relevance. They’re important for a while, recede for a while, and return. Unfortunately, that’s true even for something that makes life possible — health.

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Great Lakes Reads

“The Waters of Michigan” is the Great Lakes State’s member of a new book list called Great Lakes Reads.

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The Uncredited Co-Author

In the introduction to Ink Trails II I describe the natural beauty of Michigan as the uncredited co-author of many works.

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Praise for Ink Trails II

Acclaimed author and political commentator Jack Lessenberry had generous things to say about Ink Trails II this week.

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Ink Trails II Now Available!

March 1 was the official publication date for Ink Trails II, another exploration of famous and forgotten authors and their prose and poetry.

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The Forgotten Hemingway

Friday, February 5 was the 110th anniversary of the birth of Allan Seager in Adrian, Michigan. Unjustly overlooked today, he was once called the heir to the short story tradition at which Hemingway excelled.

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Reflections on Michigan Authors and Ink Trails II

You could spend a lifetime exploring Michigan and never come close to discovering the wealth of beauty among the 36 million acres of land that make up the state. And you could spend a lifetime exploring the work of authors associated with Michigan and never consume...

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Get a free copy of Ink Trails II

We’ve featured 16 more writers in our sequel on Michigan-associated authors. Correctly guess the last name of one who is not Hemingway and I’ll send you a complimentary copy as soon as I have one in hand. Researching and writing about these inspired women...

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Looks like March 1

Our friends at MSU Press confirmed this week that Ink Trails II will be available in March 2016. Jack and I are looking forward to sharing more stories of famous or obscure Michigan authors. Contact us if you’d like to schedule a reading or get more...

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“Ink Trails” Sequel Coming Soon

Jack and Dave Dempsey are putting finishing touches on a sequel to Ink Trails, an award-winning collection of short essays and biographies of authors with Michigan connections.  A 2013 Michigan Notable Book, Ink Trails won wide praise for illuminating both famous and...

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