Sunday, August 13, 2006

Best Rain Forest Summary Contest

The other day (August 9) Ameswire reported, in an entry headed "Small World," coming across a rain forest column I wrote a couple of years ago, back when it was a Coralville project. It was the one pointing up the factors that have tended to make the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo a community and financial success, factors that I found missing in the proposals and progress of the Iowa rain forest project. Nicholas Johnson, "Coralville Project Can't Match Up to Omaha's Zoo," Des Moines Register, July 17, 2004.

When public officials, or others, ask me to recommend a short read about the rain forest project I never know what to recommend. I guess that comparison with Omaha would be one. What I'd welcome from anyone would be nominations, like that from Ameswire, of single, short pieces I've written that you think would serve the purpose.

Clearly my rain forest Web site (, which currently would print out to well over 100 single-spaced pages -- plus the full text of the hundreds of news stories and reports to which it links -- is more than all but the most dedicated are going to pour over. It's a good encyclopedic reference source (I believe the most thorough available on the Internet), but it's far from a quick read.

Over the past six years that I've been tracking and writing about the project, and nearly three years I've been maintaining the Web site (this year providing weekly, Monday updates), I've written about 30 individual pieces. Roughly a half of those have been published as op ed columns. The rest represent speech texts or other material that went directly to the Web.

The other day I came upon a piece I'd forgotten I'd written, Nicholas Johnson, "The Coralville Rain Forest: A Brief Overview of Remaining Issues," April 24, 2004. While there may be some debate as to its brevity, depending on your definition, it is probably one of the most thorough listings in a relatively short piece of the 14 categories of issues of which I'm aware. Much of the discussion of the project relates to financing -- as it should. This document goes well beyond that to a great many other aspects of the project that need to be thought about and resolved.

Another effort to be a little more positive and upbeat about all of this -- by concentrating on attractions that have been financially and otherwise successful -- is Nicholas Johnson, "Time to Learn from What Works," Iowa City Press-Citizen, January 20, 2006.

And then last Wednesday (August 9) I wrote a very summary (about 400 words) piece for the Press-Citizen, "
Nicholas Johnson, "Caution: Rain Forest Ahead," Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 9, 2006 (also available here). It was primarily focused on the Riverside, Iowa, audience as the Riverside City Council, and the Washington County Riverboat Foundation, weigh the merits of investing local money in the rain forest.

So I guess those are the four short pieces to which I most often refer folks.

But, as I began, if you have suggestions of favorites of yours that I've forgotten (as I did with the "Brief Overview of Remaining Issues" piece) please send them along.

If we get over 5 or 10 entries I'll take the winner to a free lunch -- or give them the option to avoid watching me eat, whichever they believe to be the most valuable prize.


Nicolai Brown said...

Hey Nick,

Thought you'd like to know that the link you provided to my website does not work. Somehow a letter "p" ended up after the dot html file extension, giving people a 404 error message.

I hope this isn't taken as unasked-for advice, because that sort of thing bothers me and I try to avoid it. But one thing I do with my blog is, usually I check my links after setting a page into place. It's just a good safety mechanism to ensure I'm saying what I want to say, citing whoever I had intended, etc. Once in a while it really pays off and I'll notice a mistake, but since I checked it right away I can usually fix it without people noticing.

Nick said...

Nicolai: It's fixed. Sorry. And no problem, I welcome advice -- even the most candid, which comes in the form of critcism or even anger; it's always a mistake to fail to learn from that -- not that I thought for a moment yours was either.

Normally (e.g., when preparing and uploading my Monday morning updates on the rain forest Web site) I do, of course, as you recommend, clicking on every link, internal and external, to make sure they work. All too often there is some little problem that I can quickly correct.

This case was unusual. I blocked and copied the URL from your page, which for some reason had the "htmlp" in the address. I thought it odd, but probably just some new form of html I hadn't experienced yet, so copied and pasted it that way. That's no excuse for not checking links in blog entries, but at least it's an explanation. Sorry. -- Nick