DEFEND JOSHUA TREE: A slight manifesto

Download: Defend Joshua Tree manifesto — PDF (one-sheet, perfect for printing and posting)


Unfortunately, there’s a lot to defend Joshua Tree from these days. Dumb ideas that would degrade this beautiful, wondrous place keep coming down the pike from greedhead interests like:

* The Depierro Development Corporation, who want to install a 9,100-sq ft Dollar General franchise store in downtown Joshua Tree at the northeast corner of Sunburst and the 62. Dollar General excels at making easy money off low-income people and sending the profits out of the local community. Joshua Tree does need a proper general store, but this crap-peddling, ugly out-of-state predator isn’t the one for us.

* Axio Power, who are planning to construct a 150-acre field of solar panels on land off Sunfair, 4 miles east of downtown and within view from the national park; and British Petroleum (BP), who intend to build a 160-acre solar farm in the same area — up to 150,000 solar panels, up to ten feet tall, inside fences. Both developments will ruin important wildlife corridors forever.

* The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, who have detailed plans to build a 90,000-square foot casino on the 62 highway, just 3 miles east of Joshua Tree’s downtown on land they do not currently own. Few things could be more self-evidently inappropriate than placing a massive, off-reservation casino at the foot of a national park.

Then there are the corporate water speculators eyeing our 35,000-year-old aquifer—an independent source of water for our village that should last for at least another 200 years if we use it sensibly. There’s the plague of illegal off road vehicle riders, who routinely disrupt the natural peace, destroy wilderness and wildlife, leave behind garbage, and use up costly local resources in law enforcement and emergency services. There’s the local nighttime light polluters, who are degrading our view of the stars. And so on.

An ecology can’t defend itself from human greed, error and shortsightedness. That takes you and me, working together in the interest of the place itself. So let’s Defend Joshua Tree…before it’s too late.


About Jay Babcock

I am the co-founder and editor of Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curator of the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was one of five Angelenos listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. Today, I live a peaceful life in the rural wilderness of Joshua Tree, California, where I am a partner in with Stephanie Smith.
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