Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at Opednews.com and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: http://www.mach2.com/williams/. Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email DonWilliams7@charter.net.


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A Candle in the Darkness for Our Mother Earth
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   06/07/2010)

Just a word of thanks to those of you who phoned or emailed or otherwise supported the restoration of a crucial land preservation fund last week. I thought you should know that I turned on my computer Friday evening to find the following email from my sister, Kathleen Williams-Mooradian, who spear-headed this effort in Nashville with others in the Forever Green Tennessee movement forevergreentn@tenngreen.org. For the record, nearly no one gave this bill a chance of passing just six weeks ago! That's why it was all the sweeter, on Friday, June 4, to read...

CELEBRATE!

With bi-partisan support, today the Tennessee Senate and House passed a budget with FULL funding for land conservation!

More than $16 million restored for:

State Parks Fund: $3.1 million
Local Parks Fund: $3.7 million
Wetlands Fund: $6.5 million
Agricultural Fund: $3.2 million

Together, thousands of Tennesseans accomplished this great victory for Tennessee's environment, against tough odds and a terrible budget year!

Together, we can Forever Green Tennessee!

Thank you all for making this happen. This is your victory. I hope you will take time to celebrate this good news for our woods, waters, and wildlife and for future generations. Please be sure to thank your state senator and representatives for supporting Forever Green Tennessee.

* * *

Click here for an example of just one treasure that will be preserved. The Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation worked tirelessly to save the lands around these beautiful falls from commercial development...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6vb3tqzfiU

For the record, it wasn't just Tennesseans who saved the land fund. As I wrote last week....

"I have no idea how many of you answered my, yes, presumptuous plea that you phone or email members of the Tennessee Legislature about preserving a fund that has saved vast tracts of forests, wetlands, farmlands and parks in the heart of our Southern Appalachians. To those of you who did, guess what? It appears we're winning!

"Not only for Tennessee and tourists who travel here, but for the many thousands or millions who get drinking water from rivers originating here, and, in fact, for every person or creature who breathes the air on Planet Earth or hopes for a future not riven by climate change....

"The river-valley system of the Southern Appalachians remains a gold standard for biodiversity, and Tennessee's smack in the middle of it, so that makes our state's business everyone's business. Our forests and rivers comprise flourishing habitats and deep carbon wells which benefit the entire world. The State Parks Land Acquisition Fund--so important in saving Tennessee's great natural treasures--has become an endangered species. Even as this is written, the fund's fate is being decided in the Tennessee state legislature. Please urge them to restore this fund to its intended purpose. Our natural world must not be sacrificed on the altar of politics and backroom deals."

"A coalition of conservationists, outdoorsmen, environmentalists, park employees and visionaries spent weeks lobbying the State Legislature, passing out pamphlets, visiting offices, emailing legislators, writing arictles and phoning, phoning, phoning!

"I'm proud to say that leading the charge was my sister Kathleen Williams-Mooradian, director of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation, which has worked tirelessly to preserve hundreds of thousands of acres of woodlands, their attendant streams, mountains, valleys, waterfalls, songbirds and other natural treasures, many of international significance."

Thanks again, to courageous legislators for preserving this fund, to all the members and supporters of Forever Green Tennessee, and especially to the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation staff, whom I know to be dedicated, energetic, loyal, and in love with their mother....

Our beautiful Earth.

And thanks to all who took the time to phone, email or offer an encouraging word in response to my emails... wherever you are.

Sometimes the actual well-meaning among us get to win.

Together, we lit a candle of hope.