Category Archives: Essays

Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit, the story of the Menominee Tribe’s Sustainable Forest, is Back in Paperback

Sustaining

My book, Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit, published by State University of New York (SUNY) Press, is still in print. I was afraid SUNY was going to let it go out of print, but they have printed new paperbacks, which they had sold out of a long time ago. The price is pretty high, but I’m excited by this development. It’s always good to not go out of print.

Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit tells the wonderful story of the Menominee Indian Tribe and how they have sustained their 230,000 acre forest in ways that have enhanced, rather than degraded, the environment in the face of development pressures. Through a careful look at Menominee history, politics, institutions, economy, culture, spirituality, science, and technology, I tried to provide insight into how this case study of sustainable environmental development can offer a rough road map for other communities to follow.

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In the Time of Miracle

Our grandson, Joey Bingen, has severe autism. He is fourteen years old and cannot communicate with words. He does have a couple of sign language signs and uses them when he wants something, but has basically not been able to communicate with his parents, brother, or anyone else. Then . . .

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working with the therapist he wrote this message on his iPad, which, in the past, he has only used to play games. He has followed these words up with additional communications, the beginnings of written conversation. Fourteen years of silence and then words!

Where will this sudden ability to communicate lead? What will it mean in Joey’s life? His parent’s life? His grandparent’s life? Ethel and I believe in miracles at the moment. We believe in miracles.

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Ethel Mortenson Davis poem featured in Write On Door County’s website

Write on Door County is one of the premier writer’s retreats in the Midwest.  In addition to providing a 40 acre property in the woods that attract writers who want to refresh their spirits and spend a week or so writing, Write On provides workshops, readings, and what sometimes an endless round of events for writers and those interested in writing.

Ralph Murre and Sharon Auberele, two of Door County’s absolutely finest poets, publish a different Door County poet on the website on a regular basis.  On August 1 they published Ethel’s poem, “The Design Teacher.”  You can see the poem at http://writeondoorcounty.org.  While you’re on the site you might look around if you are at all interested in writing and writers.

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“I Let My Students Read Outside Today”

a photograph by Sonja Bingen

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U.S. educational policy today emphasizes “informational text” and performing well on standardized tests based upon a “common core” of knowledge.  The academics, businesspeople, and politicians who insist upon such nonsense have clearly forgotten what learning is all about.  My two daughters, Sonja Bingen and Mary Wood, both teachers, remember how their love of learning was originally sparked, so they are actually teachers who work to instill a love of learning in their students.  If the educational theorists would take a vacation from their heavy thoughts and the hieroglyphics of statistics generated from assessment data and spend some time in Sonja’s classroom reading with her students beneath a blooming fruit tree in early spring, perhaps they would remember that it is not knowledge, but an entertaining book or an excited teacher capable of waking a young mind that leads to learning.  Maybe then they would stop all the unnecessary testing and pontificating and begin to give teachers the support and freedom they need to generate the drive to learn that enriches those lucky enough to have lost themselves in a book on a gloriously sunny day spent outside in the school’s yard.

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Patterns in Potowatomi Forest

a photo essay by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Patterns

Cedar Fall

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Wild Grapes

Wild Grapes

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And the Clouds Brought No Rain

a photo essay by Sonja Bingen

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By the Lake

a photo essay by Sonja Bingen

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