Forest Planning- Invitation to Artistic Collaboration

I’ve always wondered if the feel of planning would be different if we kicked off revisions with a, say, Blank National Forest art week or weekend, with readings, visual arts, music and theater (possibly with juries and prizes provided by NGOs?) around what the forest means to people. Aspects of this art might then become touchstones in the often head and not heart-filled planning discussions. Anyway, I guess right-brain planning remains unexplored for now, although here’s a contribution from a planning practitioner who prefers privacy (how’s that for alliteration?) who feels the same longings. I wonder how many of us feel this way?

As for me, I have implemented 1982 Rule

Planned to implement the 1994 draft (remember?)

Participated in the evaluation of 2000

Worked on training modules for the 2005

Attempted to implement the 2005

Attempted to implement 2008

Attempting to implement 1982 – again

Anticipate implementing 2011-12 before I retire.

So I offer as a practical exercise and a bit of fun (but I don’t want this classified as “planning humor”) a real online attempt at collaboration of a different kind – an artistic collaboration if you will. But as you may garner, I believe this very concept can transfer into real forest planning collaboration, although perhaps not in rhyme or free verse.

I have for you a poem. You may or may not agree with its contents. Some stanzas are perhaps well formed, some in obvious need of refinement. Maybe some readers who have not made entry or comment will choose to participate. I hope so. Use your creative powers. If you have a replacement for a stanza, reply with the stanza number. Here goes:

The Planning Rule Poem

1. Forget “the best science’

And admit this way’s useless

To “manage” a forest

And follow a plan

When the buzz words change

More than the public can stand

2. New perspectives, no

Ecosystem management, better


All the same, but it’s DIFFERENT

THIS TIME and responsive

To everyone everywhere always, you bet

3. We agree we adore it

We plan to “restore” it

We want it to be

What WE want it to be

And our science is better

Than your science, you see

4. I have this idea

I may be a heretic

To blaspheme “the best science”

As relates to a forest

And employ in its stead

The best ART – there, I’ve said it

5. In the segments of planning

I completely agree

Assess, plan, monitor

One, two, three

And back ‘round again

As the case may be

To adapt, but collaboratively

6. Which is not to say

That Americans should outsource

Our need for the things

That come from the forest

Or underneath it

Of course that IS what we practice today

6. By law forests should

And must in the future

Provide goods and services

(Oh – I’ve heard that before)

With all the new jargon that only confuses

National forests are still about “multiple uses.”


Congress has never left NFMA

Behind, so just say to the interested parties

Let’s work together to create in these woods

An artistic collaboration of goods

And services to provide for us and our children to be.

8. Sure we folks in the forest are going to leave evidence

Of our presence, our passing, our needs at this time;

As we need to use resources we know they aren’t limitless

As we play in the forest and know that it succors us

We must simply take care that we don’t take too much

Is that really so hard? Why such a big fuss?

9. Art’s a translation of human sensations

Into a thing that can be experienced

By others as substance, or form, or event

Art is creation, not explanation

Or a scientific finding of association

And a plan’s not a “fact,” it’s a human creation

10. Art moves us ways that can’t be explained

By pieces and bits of data contained

In findings of science

And forests move us in that same way

We plan to create, not to explain or reveal

We know what we like, we know what we feel

11. Having stated what should be obvious

To those who are blinded by dogmatic adherence

To any one notion of “truth” when it comes

To the realm of forest “management”

Be it “preserve it” or “use it” or even “sustain it”

Or “make it resilient” as if WE understood it

12. But “plan” we will, and we’ll to it together

And attempt to find harmony among all the elements

Harmony – a musical artistic term that also is fact

That science can explain, but the notion came first;

It’s the combination of observation and imagination

That artistic collaboration makes a scientific reality.

1 thought on “Forest Planning- Invitation to Artistic Collaboration”

  1. I am gross and perverted
    I’m obsessed ‘n deranged
    I have existed for years
    But very much has been changed
    I’m the Rule of the Government
    And industry, 1982
    For I am destined to Rule
    And regulate you

    I may be vile and pernicious
    But you can’t look away
    I say you’re so “Scientitious”
    With the stuff that I say
    I’m the best you can get
    Have you guessed me yet?
    I’m the new Rule oozin’ out
    From your collaborative mess!

    You will obey me while I lead you
    And eat the eco-garbage that I feed you
    Until the day the forests don’t need you
    Don’t go for help . . . no one will heed you
    Your mind is totally controlled
    It has been stuffed into my green mold
    And you will think as you are told
    Until the wildfires have gone cold

    That’s right, folks . . .
    Don’t touch that land!

    Well, I am the slime from your NGO
    Oozin’ along on your courthouse room floor

    I am the slime from your NGO
    Can’t stop the slime, people, lookit them go

    I am the slime from your NGO
    Oozin’ along on your political floor

    I am the slime from your NGO
    Can’t stop the slime, people, lookit them go
    With apologies to the Zappa Family Trust. This works best as a rap song, like Frank intended.


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