Sipping Africa, Mandela and the Reality of Trump – Swoope Almanac 11/16

Sipping Africa

Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.

Journal entry 11/15/16:

Sipping Africa

Charlottesville, VA: We ordered a bottle of Bayten, Sauvignon Blanc. It’s from the Constantia wine region in South Africa, the oldest wine region in the Southern Hemisphere.  It’s Cape Town’s wine region, at the Southern tip of the African continent.

I raised my glass and gently swirled the soft golden potion and watched her long legs drift down the glass.   Slowly I brought it to my nose and breathed in the granite born soil where homo sapiens began.  I took a long, slow sip, closed my eyes, forgot where I was and swirled the history of that land in my mouth.

sipping Africa

View of Cape Town into False Bay from Table Mountain. Lion Head peak is to the left and Robbin Island is center.

A view from Table Mountain looks out to Robbin Island where Nelson Mandela spent the first 18 of his 27 years in prison.  His “Long Walk to Freedom” unlocked the chains for so many.  The Boer Wars, gold, diamonds, greed, Apartied, domination by the powerful.

Nelson Mandela's prison cell on Robbin Island.

Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robbin Island.

Constantia began producing wine in 1685.  Fredrick the Great and Napoleon sipped wine from the same soil I’m now swirling in my mouth.

Wow, what a sip…now back to reality.

Cape Town Has its Granite, We Have Our Limestone

Every good wine should engage a sense of place, history and culture. Today it was Bayten, Sauvignon Blanc. Tomorrow it will be from our soil in the Shenandoah Valley.  Cape Town has its granite, we have our limestone.

Our home in Swoope, Virginia. The soils here are made from Limestone.

Our home in Swoope, Virginia. The soils here are made from Limestone.

President-elect Trump’s Rhetoric Doesn’t Match Reality

President-elect Trump and his administration do not embrace sustainability and will not lead the world on a path forward for a more holistic and peaceful planet.  He’s going to bring back coal, build the Keystone pipeline, eliminate the EPA, and renegotiate NATO while embracing Putin.  So far, he has appointed an all white, male, anti-science, homphobic, bigoted, alt-right, inner circle.

The drumbeat to berate public servants and their work has begun.  Regan did the same thing in the 80’s.  I spent eight years fighting his mantra that government workers were lazy, over-paid and worthless.  I stand on my record.

Trump’s businesses, led by his children, and his presidency are fraught with conflict of interest.

As a public servant for thirty years, I could not accept lunch from a client or a gift over $20.  Our former Virginia Governor accepted rolex watches and catered weddings; he was acquitted of all corruption charges.  Trump’s businesses linked to his soon to be profound, insider knowledge as president, are saturated with conflict of interest.  Martha Stewart went to jail for a fraction of that.

Things are not adding up.

A Renewed Environmental Movement Begins

We have paddled upstream before.  It’s time to get back in the game.  Your environmental organizations need you more than ever.  Volunteer, give money, voice your opinion, run for office, do not give up.  Nelson Mandela’s “Long Walk to Freedom” took him over 27 years.  The Chesapeake Bay Foundation‘s long walk to restoration has been moving streadily forward for 50 years!  And we are not letting up now.  The Blueprint is working.  This is not the time to retreat, indeed, it is time to charge forward!

May we Have the Endurance and Grace of Nelson Mandela.





  1. Alan Lehman says:

    Right on Bobby!

  2. Julian Corrigan says:

    Thank you for the perspective Bobby. We to have been reeling from the implications of what this means for our future. The Iroquois nation spoke of seven generations; choose wisely for what you do today will affect the next 7 generations. After two weeks of, honestly crying, screaming and luckily our wounds-we are ready to move forward and demand a better legacy for our children. We are ready to fight!

  3. Lovely how you connected peoples and soils and rocks. I agree, we need to keep paddling.

  4. John Reeves says:

    Thanks Bobby for this–to the point and encouraging resolve, vs. depression. As a teenager of the 60s’, I remember many of the civil rights, human rights, environmental/safety needs and related initiatives, plus many of the “bloody-edge” leaders. Congressman John Lewis has been a major leader for over 50 years; here’s one of his quotes that encourages persistence: (from Aug. 23, 2013 March on Washington)–

    “So hang in there, keep the faith, I got arrested 40 times during the ’60s, beaten, bloodied and unconscious. I’m not tired, I’m not weary. I’m not prepared to sit down and give up. I am ready to fight and continue to fight, and you must fight.”

  5. Brian Nixon says:

    Bobby, you have been a great source of inspiration for me in my pursuit of spreading conservation ever since I took your class. Thank you for being the amazing human that you are! I agree with you, now it’s more important than ever to charge forward and to stand for our beliefs. If you ever need a volunteer for any environmental/social effort please feel free to reach out to me.

    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      Brian, You, are an inspiration to me. Thank you for your kind words and for taking my class. Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Liz Schreiber says:

    Amen and thank you.
    Bob and Liz Schreiber

  7. Jim Snyder says:

    I think we need to schedule an appointment with the new President first chance we get to enlighten him Bobby and have a well prepared presentation. We need to convince him conservation pays dividends and he’ll be all over it. I am much more optimistic about the new administration and surprised how different political views are from a Democrat from Ohio and one from Virginia. Hillary lost the election by segregating people into boxes and baskets and alienating working class Americans like me. Trump worked much, much harder to win and did it for 1/10th the cost. I expect he’ll do the same as President. I am serious about meeting with him.

  8. Reliance on local/state initiatives has never been more important. No one likes pollution in their air, water, backyard, that can be agreed. Trump is already backing off his most strident anti-environmentalism, though the threat is still quite real on a macro level. Let’s see what happens in the 2 and 4 year election cycles.

  9. Wow– really nice imagery of South Africa and juxtaposition of two leaders– one who is revered (and paid a very dear price)and one who is feared

  10. Albert H Todd says:

    Always a pleasure to read your blog Bobby. I agree wholeheartedly. I was willing to give Mr. Trump the benefit of the doubt to show that he understands the awesome responsibility he fought to win. Truly his choices so far have not inspired hope or inclusion. Just the opposite. I too was in the federal government through those long years of disrespect. A demoralizing time. Sure, the federal government does need reform (like our efforts at USDA) to make it work more effectively. But, it is the tool for getting the job done, not the enemy. I agree, we must all be vigilant and fight going backwards. it is too important.

    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      Al, thank you so much for your leadership, patience, and grace at USDA and at the Alliance. “Long years of disrespect”, you hit the nail on the head.

  11. Joy Loving says:

    Bobby et al,
    It is still difficult for me to understand how a global businessman with interests that depend in part on a stable environment, can deny the serious impacts happening and coming from the many weather and climate-related events we’re seeing. I want to believe it’s part of his “act”, not his real beliefs. It’s also hard to understand how a businessman can not see the economic benefits inherent in acting to mitigate (& adapt to) climate change’s “opportunities” (like, moving toward more renewable energy and thereby creating many 1000s of U.S. jobs installing solar panels and wind turbines etc, jobs that can’t move elsewhere).

    My involvement with 3 solar co-ops in the Central Shenandoah Valley has taught me that there are people in our area who see value in solar. Now we need to mobilize them to educate our state legislature to chance its stance and move VA forward toward more renewable energy. We can’t count on our elected officials to figure this out for themselves when they are so beholden to our large utilities who so far haven’t seemed to be able to envision a time when the fossil fuels are there for the taking.

    So, despite my pessimism, I hope to continue to work on these issues within VA. And hope against hope that my small efforts will eventually pay off someway, somehow.

    Thank you for your post.

    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      Joy, how insightful. Thank you for your comments and your leadership. Glad to know a new solar installation is happening every three minutes in the US. Maybe you have better information.

  12. Scott Plein says:

    Positive works, dedicated deeds win in the end. One is judged in the end by his actions not his words. It’s time to stop carping and continue our good work, for that is what will make the continuing positive change we seek

  13. Don Faulkner says:

    Hello Bobby and Thank you for your latest and your continued efforts and ways to connect us all to Earth, Creation, Healthy thinking and action, and to Truth.

    I was surprised with your begiining and thought “I cant’t believe all the places Bobby and Jeanne get to…sitting on a rock drinking best of wines overlooking Robbin Island off South Africa”. Shortly I understood where you were going,

    Of course, I share with you your sentiments as I have and do the values which guide you as a Steward of our Earth.
    This time around I applaud your creativity in addressing where those who love and have a reverence for Earth and all life on it are required to go and do as we reverse the deepening destruction to Earth and to every caring culture on it which goes back millennia but has accelerated exponentially since the election of Reagan and the growing lockstep solidity of the Republican Party.

    Best to you, Don

    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      Don, you are such a true and anchored steward for the Earth. Thank you for your comments and for keeping in touch. I hope you are doing well in New England. Jeanne I miss you very much. I apologize for being a little weird with this post but it is, what it is.

  14. Well said as usual Bobby. You’re not the only Virginia Democrat that feels this way. Loyal opposition begins, it’s our duty to hold to our values, ethics and dreams. We’re coming off the greatest obstructionist congress in history and that may continue from the other side of the aisle now. Getting an appointment with Trump is about as likely as the president elect being honest.
    I was in Germany for a while in September and the solar and wind electrical generation is so prolific that the entire countries needs are satisfied and exceeded on a sunny, windy day. Surplus sustainable power is sold to the public’s benefit. It can be done. Oh, Europe is scared to death of Trump, I was clearly wrong in assuring them it would never happen. We will all have to wait and see, but it doesn’t look good on any wholly beneficial, meaningful front other than the rich getting richer and we all knows what happens to the rest of us.
    Carry on good man!

    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      Jason, I looked on as you were in Germany. Your sustainable vision for forestry is stellar and I admire your good work. Thanks for your comments and support. Together in brotherhood. Carry on indeed.

  15. Kelly Tsow says:

    Your words of wisdom are always much, much appreciated, Bobby, and I am particularly grateful and appreciative for these words. Others have said it and I will echo the same – you are absolutely an inspiration. Thank you – and onward!

    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      Kelly, thank you so much. You, dear, are an inspiration to me. Keep up the good work that you do.


  16. Henley Gabeau says:

    Bobby ~

    Thank you for putting into words what we are feeling and thinking. I and other women (and men) friends from this area will be attending the Million Woman March the day after the inauguration. T (can’t write his name) does not represent me as a woman.

    Much love to you and keep it up.


    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      Henley, thank you for posting your comment and for your kind words. Jeanne and I will at the March as well!

  17. Diane Holsinger says:

    Thanks Bobby

  18. I wish we had 50 or 60 years to fix things!I have been blessed to be able to work with some wonderful JMU students on a CAAV (Climate Action Alliance of the Valley) project this semester: to bring personal stories of climate change from the Philippines, Colombia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Valley. Our speakers are passionate in their desire to see change and the students have had an eye-opening semester. We’ll all be at Simms Center in Harrisonburg Monday, Nov. 28th 7pm–and invite all of you to join us.
    Thanks for being an inspiration to us all.

  19. Joel Kaminski says:

    Beautiful, simple, and empowering… We can keep this ball rolling. Thank you Professor Whitescarver.

  20. George L. Ohrstrom II says:

    I never knew the eloquence hiding inside. I LOVE the wine review…..I remember a particularly GREAT Cabernet down there simply named Louis……a 2004 vintage as I remember.
    As to the Donald; we’ll just have to see. As an article in the Post says today; it’s really easy to be a bombastic, bomb-throwing orator on the campaign trail, but the reality of Presidential politics is different.
    I Do worry about environmental regulation rollback activity; and I worry about the loss of civility in political debate, and the loss of civil liberties to many parts of our American melting pot population.
    Enjoy yourself down there

    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      George, thanks so much for stopping in and for your very kind words. The South African wines are so good as you well know. I am with you, my friend, in our journey for cleaner water and air…and kinder civility. I vote for you for President.

  21. Anne Nielsen says:

    It’s late to be wishing you a happy thanksgiving, but I hope it was. My family and I enjoyed lunch at the Mimslyn Inn, and afterward a lovely time on the Riverwalk at Luray. What a fine job they have done in wedding human and nature’s activities.

    About the election, I was mute and staggered for days; total disbelief. In spite of ongoing recounts, I do not expect the result to change. I must change; we must change, those of us who love the natural world and understand our dependence on it, must double down on explaining and engaging those around us at the local level: that much we CAN do, and must do. Those of us who love our neighbors must be sure to be watchful on behalf of those who are at risk, and to intervene when necessary. Time will tell how many of these appointments get through Congress oversight, and how many can be removed with active opposition. It is disheartening to face reversal of so much we’ve fought for, but collective memory isn’t lost; we can recover. Because we must. Cheers, Anne

    • Bobby Whitescarver says:

      Anne, we love the Mimslyn Inn! And the riverwalk. Thanks for your great comments, I totaly agree. We will be stronger!

  22. Michael Budd says:

    We need to do all we can to encourage environmental students to think about running for office at some point in their future. Great article!

  23. Bobby, do you have any recommendations as to what environmental organizations people should donate money to? I have received many inquiries. Thank you! And thank you for your great articles!

  24. Healing Harvest Forest Foundation is a small local non-profit Public Charity that works to practice and promote restorative forestry – through “worst first” single tree selection and modern horse logging. Our mission statement is: “To address human needs for forest products while creating a nurturing coexistence between the forest and human communities”. We are small “treeroots” organization that works nationwide to educate the public and practitioners about this method of forest improvement. Our work has been described as particularly important in the headwaters originating in the Appalachian region where clean water at the start is the beginning of clean water throughout the watershed. Our address is: HHFF, 8014 Bear Ridge Road SE, Copper Hill, Va. 24079 – All support is sincerely appreciated.
    website: to read more. Thank you ~ Jason Rutledge

  25. Bobby,
    Even though you feel like Don Quixote, jousting that same wind mill year after year, somethings are just worth fighting for, and if you stopped the fight, you would not like what you saw in your morning mirror.
    You make that mirror look good!
    Keep up the fight, you are not in it alone but in good company.
    Love to you and Jeanne!
    Carolyn Moore…ford soon to be changed!

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