It was May of 1988. Finals had just ended—and along with it my first year of college and all the drama attached to it—and the student body had departed. There was no longer any sense of spring—just a fiery, blazing sun.
So the ASU campus was completely barren, yet Mr. Shin and I were galloping from one end to the other on some fool’s errand for the student services building, tossing a ball with my two lacrosse sticks. Bad throws would go into traffic, or down some alleyway, or even hit the side of a car, but we were just laughing and kept scurrying along. All the while he kept exclaiming: “Sweva! Sweva! Sweva!” — again, again and again—literally like a broken record. My last name had appeared a month earlier as a typo in the Greek Review campus newspaper; and hence, my college nickname was borne. If the Shinster had one, then of course I had to have one too, and he ensured that. It was part of the rite of passage I guess. Many moons have passed since that day, yet it’s vivid in my memory as if it were yesterday.
So on this site I'm Sweva, in addition to Coloado Jymes' site Rant from Boulder. It’s a name I haven’t gone by—or even heard spoken—for quite some time, as it’s attached mainly to my college years and those I knew from that time of my life. However, I've decided it’s very fitting in these political blog forums.
The name conjures up the memory of a span of time I was in transition, including with my political views. Later that same year, in my second year of college, I would leave the polls in November having voted in my first presidential election—for the first George Bush—due mainly to the Republican influences in the household I grew up in. Arizona State wasn’t the most liberal of campuses, as it didn’t seem to encourage the individual growth of one’s political views—or maybe it was something that just wasn’t on my radar (as beer, for example, definitely was). An ASU hard hat is a tough nut to crack.
Besides the social end of things, I once heard someone say that the most important “book” lesson you learn from college is that it teaches you how to think. To that end, some of us are definitely more learned than others, probably influenced to a degree by the number of late nights involving who knows what, which translated into a tally of number of classes missed. That being said, partying is a good thing and even necessary to one’s growth as a young person, however I believe the damage of missing the actual education part adds up after awhile in ways one wouldn’t consider at the time.
I’d like to think I attended enough classes to have this “thinking affect” take hold of me, as by 1992 my vote went to Ross Perot. Dissatisfied with the status quo but not sold on either party, I helped to win the election for Bill Clinton by essentially throwing my vote at the wildcard (and wild West) candidate. I liked Perot’s outside-the-box approach, and my thoughts about that election seemed to indicate that I might now be thinking outside of my little box too.
As the mid 1990s approached, I rapidly found my politics changing. The career track I had set into place in land use planning—driven by a passion for environmental stewardship and my geography studies as early as 1990, and further bolstered through sheer determination and a series of internships—brought me down the I-10 freeway 110 miles to
While prior events set me up for the change, I believe I can pinpoint the day where I was sold on the Democratic ticket and officially moved left of center. Sometime in 1996, a friend from my elementary school days was visiting from out of town, and discovering his own blossoming love for
Another significant event in
However, I was also exposed to the ugliness too. When they say we (Anglo society — a.k.a. the white man) screwed the Indian tribes 10 ways to Sunday, they’re dead on. I learned of the persecution of the tribe over the years by the US Government, the sinister bullying and arrogance exhibited by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to keep the tribes in check, the shady deals the mining companies pulled with allottees (tribal land owners) to mine their lands and scar them forever, the poisoning of the tribe’s groundwater, and the stolen water rights from the Arizona tribes—and I’m just starting to warm up by naming a few examples. I could go all night if I want, but we all have to sleep sometime. The lasting impression the tribe had on me was the insertion of spirituality into what I treasure most—our beloved planet and our environmental heritage.
The natural world—the desert, the forest, the mountains, the ocean—is my church. It’s when I’m in these serene settings, at one with nature, that I feel closest to God. That, my friends, is my platform—my shtick—what I choose to fight for. I believe that the state of our environment; from issues of sprawl and population management, to pollution of our skies and waters, and human-effected climate change, are the most pressing issues of our time. If we no longer have a habitable planet, then nothing else will matter. Then we’re all fucked.
While I plan on having comments on issues besides the environment, the focus of this blog will be primarily environmental, in addition to covering related topics and politics. Please make sure you visit Colorado Jymes' blog site Rant from Boulder, where I post as a guest. I look forward to dialogue with those of you who are kind enough to take interest in the subject matter and post comments - and as we all know that political discussions can turn into heated affairs, I'd advise you to read the blog "civility policy" in the margin. Thanks! S