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The Florida Wildlife Corridor

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This post is part 5 of 6 of the series Florida's Forgotten Coast

  THIS SERIES BEGAN WITH A QUESTION. It was born from a thought I had while jogging an empty beach along the Gulf the first day I arrived on the Forgotten Coast. The uniqueness of the area had already struck me, obviously and immediately apparent from the beginning. The natural-ness, the ubiquity of the birds on the wing, the wildlife, the native plants—all these things seemed new, experienced in Florida only once before during a trip to the Everglades. My question was simple, but embodied others that came with it in a cascade. Is the Forgotten Coast unique? Is it “natural?” Has development been balanced with a respect for natural environments, for native habitats, for biologically active and unique areas, such as those presented by the biomes of this place? If it is presently—balanced—can this situation be sustained? Within a few days of looking into these questions I came upon a … READ MORE…

East to West and Back Again

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This post is part 4 of 6 of the series Florida's Forgotten Coast

The Span of the Forgotten Coast in Pictures and Words   THIS IS A DIVERSE PLACE, as much as it is relatively unspoiled. Heading west along Highway 98 from the “Nature Coast” and “Big Bend” areas of northwestern Florida, the farms, acreages, and small rusting towns like Cross City, Salem, and Perry slowly morph into more natural, protected spaces. There is a growing sense that rather than just being an out-of-the-way place that people would rather not be, the area has been consciously conserved and protected. You encounter various “conservation” and “wildlife management” areas first. They’re heavily managed, the forests harvested and thinned, but they obviously lack condos, hotels, or the staples of other parts of the Florida coast. These then give way to Econfina State Park and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge—true protected lands that still offer a respectable level of public access. The St. Marks Lighthouse, built in … READ MORE…

Prodigious

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This post is part 3 of 6 of the series Florida's Forgotten Coast

Vines below! (disclaimer) These are all small, relatively low-res cuts of a larger video I’m editing… THE LIFE HERE, the abundance. It is prodigious. My first night here was warm and wet and clear. I was staying at a house surrounded by acres of woods outside the small town of Sopchoppy, about 10 miles inland from the coast and known for its annual (yeah!) “Worm Gruntin’ Festival.” I stepped outside around 9PM to look upward—at a sky free of clouds, of stratospheric aircraft, of anything but stars and the familiar galactic haze of the Milky Way. The clarity, the visual lucidity of the night was striking—the scene in stark contrast to the nearly terrifying, natural din of the surrounding forest. The tumult came from every direction. Owls hooted, bullfrogs croaked and rumbled, their smaller cousins in the trees and bushes chirping and barking like terriers. Strange birds called in unholy … READ MORE…

Dark Water

Tannic water, Ochlockonee Bay.
This post is part 2 of 6 of the series Florida's Forgotten Coast

THE WATER HERE is dark. The color of black tea, or even coffee—on first encounter it can look dirty or even foul. It isn’t. The water of multiple, major rivers flows into the bays defining the Forgotten Coast. It is tannic for the most part—tinted dark by chemical processes inherent to the decaying of vegetation—it is rich with organic matter, rich with the stuff of life. The color of the water is testament to the biological productivity of an inland Florida to the north—and the effluent of that productivity flows down and out, meeting the fluid of the Gulf in places like Ochlockonee Bay, Apalachee Bay, Apalachicola Bay. It is in stark contrast to the clear water of the popular Gulf beaches to the west and south. On my first encounter with it, on a warm day in April when the sun shined bright and blazing overhead, I could tell that … READ MORE…

The Forgotten Coast

Salt marshes abound. Rich in life, they're equally rich in beauty.
This post is part 1 of 6 of the series Florida's Forgotten Coast

APPROXIMATELY 40 MILES EAST of Panama City, Florida there exists a special place. Geographically close to other areas of the Florida shoreline known affectionately by some as the “Emerald Coast” (and not so affectionately by others as the “Redneck Riviera”), this area remains separate and distinct. The beaches are not as expansive, the water not as clear, but the natural soul of a state more often bought and sold, remains here. This is Real Florida, as they say. This is the Forgotten Coast. Though some locals might argue the exact boundaries of this place, the 100 mile stretch along US-98 beginning at Mexico Beach and ending at St. Marks, is a general and approximate definition. Strangely enough, what is more distinct than a numerical configuration on a map is the feel of this place, the sense of it in the air. Driving east from Panama City along 98, the beach resorts … READ MORE…

Anti-Gravity and the Pull of the Past

Police Academy Graduation, 2009.

“If you think you’re enlightened, go and spend a week with your parents.” —Ram Dass I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family lately—good time, quality time, with the people in this world I love most dearly. It renews me, recharges and inspires; and can be simultaneously frustrating. Even infuriating. These people are those with whom I share the most history. Here the past runs both heavy and deep. Much of my self-image has grown and developed through my interaction with, my history with them. And therein lies the rub. Our voluminous, shared past (along with love) defines these relationships. In college I once took an undergrad anthropology course from an excellent professor, Dr. Craig Palmer, now at the University of Missouri. He made a point that no relationship is stronger than that defined by blood, punctuated by the assertion (somewhat startling, but absolutely true) that any other … READ MORE…

A Positive Path

A fall day in Colorado. Above Geneva Creek, 90 mins west of Denver, 12,000 ft.

  I’m inclined to judge—people, places, my dogs, myself. I’m inclined like some rotten old tree, bent toward an undefined but clearly negative gravitational mass. And none of this is new, of course. I’m certainly not the only one afflicted by this proclivity. My mind, my ego, or the “I” of which “I” speak is effectively a resistance device, manufacturing judgment and negativity; bush-whacking through a daily span usually by toil and brow-sweat and a hell of a lot of swearing. But this I know. And therein lies the hope. With self-knowledge always comes a liberating ability—that of choice. I can choose to see that negative inclination for what it is and I can let go of it. Or at least I can sit back and watch the movie play out, knowing that “I” am that movie’s audience, not the film itself. And then, with practice, I can choose the … READ MORE…

Up from Below

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(Sperlonga, Italy. Photo by WB) Within this blog is a section entitled “Up from Below.” I wanted to explain it. Some might call this section “contemplative” or “philosophical” or “spiritual.” Perhaps all of these terms fit. I don’t know. For me, writings, musings, posts that fit in this section simply come from a place within me, the writer, that seems deeper and less tangible than that other, more common point of origin. They might also concern writers or works of art and lit, or the stuff of other thought leaders that I feel comes from this same place. These things well “up from below;” like a spring or a kind of clear and bubbling brook rising up and out of the earth. The term comes from a feeling, more than anything. The term is my expression of a perception almost prior to specific thought or words. I’ve come to learn that my … READ MORE…

The GAIAD, A Novel—Free!

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TODAY and Tomorrow (March 25th and 26th) The GAIAD, A Novel—is FREE for Kindle. If you haven’t yet read the book, don’t miss this opportunity to experience the story—a powerful, revolutionary work from a “confident new voice” in literature and science fiction:   Will Burcher is a former police officer and current author of “The GAIAD,” a story of ancient secrets not quite forgotten and the positive power of global perspective. He lives and works in Colorado, USA. SUBSCRIBE for a chance to WIN A signed edition of The GAIAD. Join the conversation. EARTH. SPACE. INSPIRATION. EVERY 10th subscriber will receive a print edition of THE GAIAD, a new science fiction novel, signed by the author. Subscribers will also receive a 20% discount on the book—our thanks for being part of a conversation that WANTS TO BE HAD.    

The Dulling Flood

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A Writer’s Responsibility… To maintain that spark, that light of individuality even in the face of so much else, so much media. We exist today in a sea of media, the expression of thinking minds in all stages of development, engaged in all forms of expression. The force of the whole, the global mind. The baseline. The median. The mean. The middle of the statistical bell curve. I see it as a wave, a flood, a brown and fetid tide of mediocrity threatening every minute, every day to sweep me away with it. Admonition To Myself… Do not forget the great responsibility a life of public expression brings. You have the ability to lead people’s minds in various directions. You can either lead them toward stagnant, fetid pools—or something cleaner, clearer, fresher. Something new. You literally can take another person, a reader, on a journey—out of themselves, out of their … READ MORE…

“Kindred” by Octavia Butler—A Review

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3/5 Stars I expected more from a work that many of the literary powers that be regard as Butler’s best. It is also clearly her most commercially successful, with over 450,000 copies sold. Wikipedia states, it “is still widely popular; it is regularly chosen as a text for community-wide reading programs and book organizations, as well as being a common choice for high school and college courses.” To be sure, there are elements of the book that are noteworthy. I’d go as far as to say that her premise, and the general outline of the book were both brave and revolutionary when first published in 1979. Kindred tells the story of Dana, a black woman in the mid 1970’s suddenly transported to another time and place; rural Maryland, circa 1820. She finds her life inexplicably linked to that of a young white boy, Rufus, the son of a slaveholding plantation … READ MORE…

“Immense Journey” by Loren Eiseley—A Review

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 5/5 Stars “We are one of many appearances of the thing called Life; we are not its perfect image, for it has no image except Life, and life is multitudinous and emergent in the stream of time.” —Loren Eiseley When it was first published in 1977 it was marketed as a science book for the nonscientist, as something written by Stephen Jay Gould or Stephen Hawking would be today. This categorization is simplistic, however. This is not a book about science, merely. It is not an attempt by an expert to explain some concept to the public. “Immense Journey” is a meditation. It is a work of spirit and of soul, as much as it of anything else. In poetic, musical prose he speaks of his own encounters with the natural world over the course of a notable career in varied natural fields. These encounters are sometimes small and seemingly … READ MORE…

A Green Caplitalist’s Manifesto

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cap·i·tal·ism ˈkapədlˌizəm/ noun an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.  green ɡrēn/ adjective relating to the natural world and the impact of human activity on its condition. I am an environmentalist. I am also a capitalist—one who believes in the rightness of a free market economy. The two are not mutually exclusive. In direct opposition to others who claim to be supporters of libertarian market ideals, I will state without reservation that human activity is absolutely responsible for a warming planet, and that our economic activities have drastic impacts on the wider environment. We reside in the Anthropocene Epoch—a period of future history defined as any other geological epic would be, only one marked indiscreetly by the negative external effects of our consumptions, wastes, destructions. This kind of environmental degradation is not inherent, however, … READ MORE…

“Ringworld” by Larry Niven—A Review

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 4/5 Stars The image is as powerful as anything in science fiction: an artificial, constructed world—a spinning ring orbiting a star at an incredible speed, its dimensions measured not in the thousands of miles (as Earth and its sister planets are) but in the millions and billions of miles.  The inner surface of the ring looks similar to the surface of any other earth-like world.  Deserts and grasslands give way to forests and jungle.  Mountains rise above the plains.  Oceans, magnitudes greater than the surface area of the Earth, lap against complex, sculpted coastlines.  The world seems familiar, though the sizes of each landform, of each feature, defy human comprehension. A breathable atmosphere is held in place by rims on both of its edges, 1000 miles high.  The immensity of Niven’s creation represents a paradigm that every science fiction author would be wise to honor.  THIS is what an author’s … READ MORE…

RESISTANCE — An Author’s Diary

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My friend Noel and I head out for a hike and discuss the topic of my recent (written) blog post—Resistance, or writer’s block.  Be warned: Sunglasses will be worn awkwardly, all dogs (regardless of sex) will be called “buddy,” and there might be a graphic story of horrible injury and something about Kevin Bacon toward the end.     Will Burcher is a former police officer and current author of “The GAIAD,” a story of ancient secrets not quite forgotten and the positive power of global perspective. He lives and works in Colorado, USA. SUBSCRIBE for a chance to WIN A signed edition of The GAIAD. Join the conversation. EARTH. SPACE. INSPIRATION. EVERY 10th subscriber will receive a print edition of THE GAIAD, a new science fiction novel, signed by the author. Subscribers will also receive a 20% discount on the book—our thanks for being part of a conversation that WANTS TO … READ MORE…

SPACE and Environmentalism in The GAIAD

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I recently had a conversation with an environmentalist author whose mind I very much respect, concerning my assertions on space (and specifically manned spaceflight), and it got me thinking. Some, who haven’t read The GAIAD yet, might be surprised that space figures prominently in the story. This is certainly my fault—putting the rear profile of a long-haired, well-muscled shirtless man holding an obsidian-tipped spear on the cover. But really, space in The GAIAD is represented as a reflection of my own personal beliefs: we as a species must continue to move outward and explore the ultimate frontier—for the good of ourselves and for the good of our planet. My friend argued that the space program, with its massive financial and energetic expenditures (as well as the atmospheric pollution resulting from rocket launches), is a luxury that humanity cannot currently afford. I respectfully disagreed with him. The environmental effects of space-related … READ MORE…

Resistance

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(Just outside of Moab, Utah. The sun was setting behind my burning bush.) I kept second-guessing myself on this one.  Self-Talk: “You’re setting a very serious tone, and it’s just the beginning.  It could be too serious.  You’re going to turn people off—” Well, whatever.  It’s who I am.  I’m pretty serious.  Not all of these blog entries will be like this.  I promise.  Some might even have video of cute puppies doing cute things, or me dancing, or some other thing. Resistance!  Specifically the resistance we as writers encounter within ourselves when we set out to create something real, something good. And I should qualify this first.  Not all writers will encounter it.  Some writers produce, write, from a different place within.  For some, I think, it’s a necessity—a kind of outlet, an internal valve—and if they don’t write the pressure builds up within until something bad happens.  The curse … READ MORE…

The Future of Manned Space Exploration: Buzz Aldrin’s MISSION TO MARS, A Review

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 4/5 Stars As the Obama Administration presents its 2017 budget to Congress tomorrow for review (and an inevitable fight), I’m immediately struck by the relevance of the event to a seminal book that I just finished.  Buzz Aldrin’s “Mission to Mars:  My Vision for Space Exploration” is a powerful explication of a specific near-future strategy for NASA’s manned exploration activities, as well as a potent meditation on the importance of such a strategy for this country and indeed, for humanity. Aldrin really doesn’t need any introducing, as he is of course the second man to walk on another planetary body, the Moon in July, 1969.  His qualifications to speak on such a topic are obviously legion.  As such, I feel wholly unqualified to really “review” and pass judgment on any of the technical assertions he makes in the book.  However, I am particularly attracted to his concept of “Aldrin cyclers”—spacecraft … READ MORE…

The Story of The GAIAD—An Author’s Diary

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I put together this video (thanks to Noel Boyce, cameraman extraordinaire), the first in a series of video diaries of all of the processes I explored and experienced writing The GAIAD.  I’m going to be working on them throughout this period, as I begin to share this story with folks.  I have an unofficial goal to get an “episode” out weekly.  Take a look: Will Burcher is a former police officer and current author of “The GAIAD,” a story of ancient secrets not quite forgotten and the positive power of global perspective. He lives and works in Colorado, USA. SUBSCRIBE for a chance to WIN A signed edition of The GAIAD. Join the conversation. EARTH. SPACE. INSPIRATION. EVERY 10th subscriber will receive a print edition of THE GAIAD, a new science fiction novel, signed by the author. Subscribers will also receive a 20% discount on the book—our thanks for being part of … READ MORE…

A Case for Mars: Social Welfare vs. A New Apollo

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I wrote this editorial in response to one printed yesterday in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  I hesitate to post the link here, as they chose to reject my response because it was “too long,” presumably, and contained hyperlinks.  But it might provide a context, if needed: Original Article My Response … A Case for Mars:  Social Welfare vs. A New Apollo Typical arguments against a manned mission to Mars center around the idea that such a mission would be too expensive and would result only in vague, minimal economic benefits.  An argument focusing on expense alone misses the point.  Numbers alone don’t tell a complete story, especially with government expenditures.  The annual budget of the federal government (~$3.5 trillion) includes other massive outlay for social programs with equally “vague” and some would say, minimal, economic benefits.  On the political left, the figure of $212 billion is quoted; while on the right, … READ MORE…