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Stories by Fran Alexander

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Commentary: Environmentalists Seek Hope For Global Quality

Subscriber onlyOur language seems rather poetical when we describe crowds. What else could phrases like a murder of crows, an obstinacy of buffalo, a bellowing of bullfinches, a scold of jays, a gaggle of geese, a knot of toads, a glaring of cats, a bask of crocodiles, and everyone's favorite, a congress of baboons be besides poetry? Continue reading...

Compassion In ‘Well, Bless Your Heart !’

FAYETTEVILLE WORKS HARD TO AID NEEDY, PROMOTE DIVERSITY, UNDERSTANDING

Subscriber onlyGrowing up Southern means some phrases are forever emblazoned on your brain. Certainly the empathetic smoothness of, “Well, bless your heart,” goes a long way to let us know our pains are not invisible and our hurts are recognized as valid. Continue reading...

Taxpayers Likely Responsible To Clean Spills

PIPELINE DETECTIONS MORE OFTEN DUE TO RESIDENTS’ DISCOVERIES THAN COMPANY MONITORS

Subscriber only“Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and caldron bubble.” — CHANT OF THE THREE WITCHES IN SHAKESPEARE’S MACBETH Last March in Mayfl ower, near Conway, 210,000 gallons of crude oil and the chemicals within it flowed onto Arkansas soil and into her water. Exxon, the parent of the 65-year-old pipeline with a 22-foot long crack, has now done its cleanup routine and continues to say the pollution went no farther than a cove in Lake Conway. How chemicals can become stationary and not circulate or contaminate other parts of a lake is still a mystery to me, but that’s been Exxon’s story, and they’re sticking to it. Nevertheless, exactly which chemicals, and in what quantities, the residents and the environment will be dealing with over an unknown span of time is still anyone’s guess. Continue reading...

Will 2014 Be A Turning Point For Earth?

MAN-MADE, MAN-UTILIZED CHEMICALS DETECTED IN LIFE FORMS AT FARTHERMOST REACHES OF THE PLANET

Subscriber only“Absence of certainty is not synonymous with absence of risk.” — Dr. John Cairns, Jr., biologist New beginnings, fresh starts, resolutions and proclamations are all about what can be changed if we just make up our minds to change. And, change is the daily, not annual, mantra of anyone working on environmental issues. Wanting change for the better and fearing change for the worst is what activism is based on, but, of course, the problem with change arises when diff ering defi nitions of “better” collide with differing levels of power. Continue reading...

Residents Need Vigilance As Cities Change

CITY DWELLERS MUST LEARN LESSON NATIVE AMERICANS REALIZED LONG AGO

Subscriber onlyOccasionally in our eff orts to live together in societies, rules have to be made to protect us from each other. Like many of the other animals with which we share this planet, humans are territorial and consequently, things can at times get tedious and tense. We like our space, and some of us need more than others to remain civil. Continue reading...

Christmas Strikes Again Across Nation

TOY OFFERINGS FOR GIRLS STILL TOO HEAVILY GEARED TOWARD GENDER LIMITATIONS

Subscriber onlyWell, it’s that time of year again when my feminist streak rises closer to the surface than I normally allow in my daily life. It’s that time when colorful slick ads and catalogues begin pouring down upon us from every conceivable outlet. Continue reading...

Children’s Hospital Makes Difference In NW Corner

Subscriber only“Until no child needs us, we need you.” — Arkansas Children’s SHospital motto ome images never leave us. I saw something last week that will always flash in my mind when I hear the abbreviated and common name of one of our state’s greatest treasures, “Children’s.” Extended from what seemed like a gigantic diaper were two tiny, slightly curved pink legs, bent at the knees, and ending at feet hardly as large as my thumb. That’s all I could see of the infant on an adult-sized examination table, while the baby underwent an echocardiogram at the ACH/ UAMS Centers for Children location in Lowell. As this little human’s heart function was being electronically screened in Lowell, it was also being scrutinized by a cardiologist in Little Rock at home base, where there are a larger number of specialists than this center can support at this time. Continue reading...

Drilling To Realities Some Want To Ignore

POTENTIAL ENERGY SUPPLY BUBBLE COULD HAVE DIRE RAMIFICATIONS ON GLOBAL ECONOMY

Subscriber onlyUnless you have closed out all forms of news media in your life, you’ve probably heard about “fracking” for natural gas in this country and around the world. Continue reading...

True Equality Still Eludes Some People

SOCIETY MAKES STRIDES AS ATLANTA CHURCH HOLDS ITS FIRST SAME-SEX MARRIAGE CEREMONY

Subscriber only“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” — Martin Luther King Jr. Continue reading...

Planning Arkansas’ Water Future Critical

STATE’S NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION IN PROCESS OF UPDATING, REVISING ITS WATER PLAN

Subscriber only“We never know the worth of water ’till the well is dry.” — Thomas Fuller Some years back a close friend was preparing to run for public oft ce, and she asked me to bring her up to speed on major environmental concerns. I told her fi rst and foremost to remember only one word, “watersheds,” but to learn everything she possibly could about them. For starters she needed to find out what watersheds are, how they work, what changes or pollutes them, how the economy is related to them, and what their relationship is to the health of every living thing. For a visual understanding, I also gave her a picture of what looked like gashes of green veins snaking across a plain. Those life-providing veins actually were watercourses making their way to the sea through heavy vegetation. Continue reading...

Do The Math Most Don’t Want To Do

HUMANS CAN SEE THE DIFFERENCE 1 DEGREE OF TEMPERATURE CAN MAKE IN WEATHER CONDITIONS

Subscriber only“Adapting means hoping the flood arrives simultaneously with the fire, to put it out.” — Tom Toles There are times when issues come in spades, and this spring has been environmentally bountiful, but not in a good way. The hog farm looming in the watershed of the Buff alo National River in Newton County, the Exxon oil pipeline leak in Mayfl ower, the Arkansas Legislature’s willing degradation of the state’s water quality standards (Act 954), and the new global carbon dioxide milestone are just a few recent happenings continuing to lower our quality of life today and every day. And, these events are here now, not out in some distant future where many folks prefer to push all environmental unpleasantness. Continue reading...

COMMENTARY: Everyone Lives Downstream In The End

MASSIVE HOG FARM NEXT TO BUFFALO RIVER DEMONSTRATES LIMITS OF REGULATORY PROCESS

Subscriber onlyWater runs downhill, much to the disgruntlement of some civil engineers who are born, it seems, to the mission of making water behave as humans want it to. Supposedly engineering designs, along with construction and nutrient management plans, were involved in the decisionmaking and permitting process of putting 6,500 hogs on 630 acres of the hilly watershed near Arkansas’ beloved Buffalo River, the nation’s first national river. The Arkansas Department of Pollution Control and Ecology granted a permit for this massive concentrated animal feeding operation, as the state calls it, because it met their permitting requirements. Continue reading...

COMMENTARY: Communities That Branch Out Gain Benefits

WINTER IS RIGHT TIME TO PLANT TREES NEEDED TO EXPAND CANOPY

Subscriber onlyAbout this time of year, when the weather forgets periodically that it’s supposed to be cold and premature daffodil blooms brave the elements, I start to wonder if people remember it’s in winter when trees are supposed to be planted. Unfortunately humans tend to not get in a planting mood until spring, which is also when trees are waking up to the glories of warm weather. Continue reading...

Grandmother Wishes For Detoxed World

RESEARCHER QUESTIONS EFFECTS OF MANMADE CHEMICALS ON FETUSES, CHILDREN, ADULTS, ELDERLY

Subscriber onlySince the movie “The Bucket List” was released a few years ago, the title has become very useful as a reference for all things we wish we could do before we “kick the bucket.” In our culture, choosing what is most important to us seems almost to have become a social imperative as we look toward our futures. Continue reading...

Generations: That Was Then, This Is Now

PARENTS OF THE PAST FACED FEARS OF POLIO, DRUG ABUSE; PRESENT WORRIES INCLUDE RISING OCEANS

Subscriber onlyWhen I was a child, my mom mostly worried about protecting me from the scourge of polio and from worries about my dad, who was overseas in World War II. Her mother’s apprehensions had been about childhood diseases, such as mumps, measles and whooping cough, which could turn deadly. In my great-grandmother’s day, infant and mother survival in childbirth was a paramount concern. When I had my children, it was not so much disease or childbirth that I feared, but the culture of alcohol and drugs they would be exposed to as teens. Of course, then HIV came along to terrify us all. Continue reading...

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