Keep the Kids Together

One definition of hell is a fight over a local school. It involves parents and their kids, and an experience on which their whole lives can seem to depend. (Most of us turn out okay despite imperfect schooling, but somehow we forget.) When educational philosophies are at stake, things can turn into a religious war.

Put all this into a small town setting that pits us against friends and neighbors, and it might prompt musings about pre-retirement in Guam. There are warning signs already. The situation could go downhill fast, unless our better natures prevail.


Fellow Conservatives

Out here on the edge of the continent, where the force fields of respectability and convention run thin, we like to think of ourselves as progressive, in an undogmatic way. But really we are conservative, when you get down to it. We are alert constantly to the capacity for evil in human nature, especially in the form of greed, and greed’s designs upon the land. We are skeptical of the version of progress that the corporate market pushes at us. We embrace the wisdom of the past, especially as embodied in the natives of this place.

Russell Kirk, the intellectual progenitor of modern conservative thought, marked these as central tendencies of what he called the “conservative mind.” (Kirk would not be pleased by what claims that banner today, but that’s another matter.) We revere the land and take a dim view of change, and if those are not conservative inclinations, then nothing is.


Do You Have to Buy?

You came for the weekend and you fell for the place. Soon you were looking at real estate, and getting pretty intense. It wasn’t enough to be in this stunning … More

Shoreline Education on the Brink

To: Meredith Siebe and Sandy Kaplan, Co-Presidents, Shoreline Education Association From: Jonathan Rowe, Point Reyes Station Date: May 13, 2010 Now the ball is in your court. The jobs of … More

Meet Us at the Zocalo

We humans like to gather, and to be around other people in informal and unstructured settings. For time out of memory, places in which to do so were built into daily life. Medieval cities had squares outside of churches, which is where markets first began. Boston and other New England towns began with commons. Towns in Mexico have zocalos, or central plazas where people congregate and socialize.

At least one couple here in Point Reyes Station, California, met at a zocalo in their home town. Another local couple was married in the Boston Common. These spaces all are versions of the same thing: settings in which people can be in the presence of others, even if just to sit and read, or play dominoes or chess, or watch the world go by. The instinct to do so runs deep. The office coffee machine. The street corner outside a bodega. Front stoops in the city or the mango tree in my wife’s village in the Philippines — the gnarly roots provide a place to sit and the leaves offer protection from the brutal sun.