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Archive for September, 2009

What’s in a Word?

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: Beauty of Windmills Not Evident to All

By Christopher Worth
Special to Huntingtonnews.net

Viewshed.

I had never heard this word until a few weeks ago when I was visiting my family in Pocahontas County. An interesting debate has sprung up within our county commission about Virginia’s use of windmills on a ridge which is visible from a historical landmark in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.

In conversation over dinner, the word came up and I kept repeating it because of how it’s being used in the county commission’s argument with Virginia. They say that the windmills are visual eyesores and in fact they are in a land dispute with the state of Virginia because one of the windmills is both in Virginia and supposedly West Virginia. Now, before we get into the meat of this story, let me clarify that I am not at all an expert in energy, land disputes, or environmental issues. Like anyone, I have an opinion and like almost everyone, I think my opinion is educated.

As most of my readers in Huntington know, but many may not in Pocahontas County, my brother and I as well our close friend Rebecca Currence, are taking a trip through the state. On this trip we have had the good fortune to see quite a few windfarms on the ridges of our good state. In fact, we purposefully have gotten right next to one of these windmills. There is a buzzing that came from it, but sitting in the car with the engine off I had to work to hear the sound. I had heard before seeing my first windmill that they were extremely loud, but I beg to differ. There is noise involved, but one has to be hyper-sensitive in order to be affected by the noise that these contraptions emit.

On another point, which is purely personally aesthetic, I think these machines are beautiful. As one gazes out along the ridge, to me, though they are noticeable, they remind me of sculptures. Very modern, very sleek, but not inappropriately placed at all.

My mother reminds me that my aesthetics are not shared by all, so admitting that, I do not believe that you can say that these machines are interrupting the “viewshed” to the point of taking away from the majesty of the mountains or the historical significance of a Civil War battlefield. Individuals can still picnic on these fields, climb these mountains, and be brought to tears by the visual masterpiece which is the Appalachian Mountain Range. To me, gazing out on across the mountains, these windmills almost become a seamless, beautiful statement of man’s presence on earth and God’s purpose for our planet.

Why is this word “viewshed” being evoked in a defensive manner? Well, reminding readers that I am not an expert in anything but visual art, I think the argument has been generated as a political outcry against new energy resources. I know by reading the paper from Pocahontas County that there are issues having to do with drilling for natural gas that might keep people from wanting wind power to be present in the southeastern part of the state. People are making money talking about gas.

I would not be truthful if I did not mention that I have been heavily involved with the anti-mountaintop removal efforts in the state. I am not anti-coal, but I understand its limitations, and for that reason (among many) I am for new energy resources. Energy resources that do not deplete and/or destroy natural resources, but preserve them. Wind is a new power source that could radically and will radically change the power paradigm in this state. Not just economically, but politically and socially. Note that I just used the word political. Politics is what makes up a county commission. It’s interesting that politics is where we started this conversation…

I would suggest that every part of the state be aware of what’s going on in Pocahontas County. Even my friends in the anti-mountaintop removal movement do not spend enough time looking at what’s going on outside of the coal fields in my opinion. We must begin to combine our strengths as a state and look at all the tides of change sweeping in from the mountainous regions to the cities and towns that make up West Virginia. The energy issue affects us all, whether we’re talking fossil fuel or wind power.

For what it’s worth, we need to pay attention to all corners of the state. We are all one body.

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Dharma Boys

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By Christopher Worth

Creativity. I often ask myself what is the catalyst for any kind of painting as one of Alice Neel’s (A famous painter) sons said, “why does one make an image of anything?” That’s what I’ve been juggling in my head for the past week. what is creativity?

I see it, at it’s core, as an internal drive. This drive finds body in mediums such as writing, painting, drawing, and most importantly, abstract thought.

The new foundry of American ingenuity cannot be found on the factory floor; it exists within the mind the engine being the drive I describe above, within the question “Where does the world end and the mind begin?” That’s my quest as an artist, to help define the point where the reality of thoughts and physical world collide.

I don’t just see West Virginia as my zip code or street address. I see it as a piece of artwork. Artwork is always in process, and by my labeling it as artwork, it is at it’s core purely a creative impulse. West Virginia is a thought for me, not a physical place. The question is, “Why does one make anything?”

In my mind, one makes something to improve upon something else. The writer writes to illuminate ideas; the builder builds a bridge not just to get across the river, but to express physical beauty in that process. And that’s why we make things. we make things because, the making is the embodiment of a cognitive language that every human has access to.

In the end, if what I say is true, and for what it’s worth I certainly believe it, then if you believe something has value, then it has value. if you believe that it can do no right thing, then it will do only wrong things.

Until next week: Believe in the betterment of self, and it will be… Believe in the betterment of place, and that will be… Remember you have the language! We all do….

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Alex Hughart: siting

francis aka alexo-1

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On our travels, my heart is beating as fast as a wild hare. As my brother and I with a companion walk the same ground as Washington, Hamilton, and Jefferson These men are the minds behind true innovation and early concepts of the entrepreneurial force behind the formation of modern America. We are on the grounds of the Sweet Springs Resort in Monroe County. The Resort was designed by Tomes Jefferson himself and my brother Wayne points out that Sweet Springs was “the Greenbrier” resort of its day. On that lawn looking up toward that stately building, I am brought to mind of the extreme social and political history of our West Virginia home.

This weekend’s travels have allowed me to have an “ah ha” moment. Not unlike the moments of enlightened thought that I am positive happened at Sweet Springs which changed the face of the Western World. It is a realization that my brother Wayne came to a long time ago, but I had not been able to put words to until this weekend myself, note that I am still formulating words to express the idea even as I write this article…

I in-vision an alliance between counties. Not just The typical geographical partnerships somewhat fostered by the state legislature. Instead one that connects counties by issue and is spearheaded by people directly impacted by said issues. In other words, I think this state must begin creating partnerships between counties, but the partnerships must have a statewide conversation. For example, every county affected by energy issues (which is all Counties making up this great state) must talk about those issues. Every county affected by tourism (which is a great number of us) must talk to each other and start to centralize their conversation. Etc…

We find that in our travels this state has diverse landscape and each county has a unique identity, so that the issues may not be the same for one county as they are for the county neighboring them, but Hampshire and Grant counties share a lot of the same problems. These Counties do not share a border, but if they began talking, they could pool a lot of their strengths to create opportunity for growth in many areas, including political ones. One voice is not as powerful as voices that are partnered, and if we start to partner together, then all of west Virginia’s voices would be heard by the governing bodies in Charleston.

Until next week for what its worth I am on the road…

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The scholars

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