Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Protecting One's Own

This morning, I happily read that UNESCO has denied World Heritage status to Shimane prefecture's Iwami Ginzan. A few years ago, I assisted in that proposal by doing some transcription and basic translating . It's the first time I ever did a moral gut-check regarding a job, working on a project to which I was strongly opposed. Iwami's campaign had at its center the economic crusade of a single businessman. Most of the residents were against the move. They felt the protection of this gorgeous place was best left in the hands of the farmers and artists who live there. I agree.

When the Kumano Kodo got World Heritage status three years ago, I immediately headed down there. This is my favorite part of the country, an area I've frequently hiked. So I thought it best to walk the areas adjacent to the protected section, before the roads were widened, leading to all the hotels, gift shops, restaurants, and bus parking lots. It was still beautiful then.

But all this is apparently moot to the citizens of Kyongju, Korea. It seems 90 percent of them favor building a nuclear waste dump nearby this World Heritage site. Kyongju is essentially the Korean equivalent of Nara, and easily the best place in the country. I spent a few days there in 1997, hiking amidst the Buddhist temples and Confucian mounds. The occupants of these tombs are no doubt doing a lot of rolling these days.

On the turntable: "Blue Note: The Ultimate Jazz Collection"
On the nighttable: Ellen J. Langer, "Mindfulness"
On the nighttable: Ellen J. Langer, "Mindfulness"

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