September 2012


Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).

A Brief History of Organized Labor and the Democratic Party, Part One

By Ron Kaminski

This state and nation do best when there’s an opportunity for hard-working people, who play by the rules, to earn a decent standard of living. There was a brief period in our history following World War II and lasting through the mid-1970s where that was as true as it had ever been. Organized labor and the Democratic Party played an important part in making that happen. This is an attempt to explain how we got there.

Internet Founder to Discuss the Future of Technology and Opportunities for Nebraska

By Rod Armstrong

Vint Cerf is widely recognized as one of the “Fathers of the Internet.” In his current role with Google, he is well known for his predictions about how technology will affect the future society. Vint will share his deep knowledge of technology issues and trends at the second annual Broadband Connecting Nebraska conference in Lincoln.


Unpublished Journal
April 10, 1992

Time slips by with increasing rapidity during the misnamed “golden years.” There is a time to die. Now in my 79th year I know my personal future is short, while the past continues to lengthen at an equal rapidity.

KXL: Dagger to the Heart

By Cindy Myers

On a Saturday morning, June 16, 2012, nature photographer Adrian Olivera and I travelled the scenic country road headed north of Stuart, Neb. Our destination: 30 miles to the Laura and Kurt Meusch Ranch located on the high southern banks of the scenic Niobrara River. I’ve known Laura for several years, and the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline has stressed her life like no other event ever has. She states emphatically that she will not be able to continue living on the land she holds so dear to her heart if this tar sands oil pipeline is buried across their ranch. The thought is absolutely unbearable to her.

Prairie Populist: Omaha Artist Tom Bartek

By James Cihlar

Born in 1932 in Omaha, Neb., artist Tom Bartek’s career is the tale of a man and a city, and proof positive that, in fact, you can go home again (with apologies to Thomas Wolfe.)

Three Omaha galleries will celebrate Tom’s 80th birthday in 2012 with simultaneous retrospective exhibitions of his work. After 60 years of productivity, Bartek has provided much for the curators to choose from.

Book Review: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" by Seth Grahame-Smith

Review by Kimberly Downing Robinson

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”
Author: Seth Grahame-Smith
Publisher: Grand Central

Some people, Abraham, are just too interesting to kill.”

Grahame-Smith’s handling of Civil War history is remarkably well contextualized in “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” Indeed, much should be expected from a novelist who thinks himself well advised to use Abraham Lincoln as a protagonist in a novel about vampires, especially when the backdrop of the story runs the gamut of the historical events that shaped Westward expansion and bipartisan politics. “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” probes American cultural and historical insecurities through an uneasy transformation of the historical novel, a genre developed by Sir Walter Scott to provide cultural commentary on behalf of the disenfranchised and to promote social activism for the reinstatement of Scottish values and traditions, some 60 years after the Battle of Culloden (1746).

Planting Autumn Oaks

By Jack Phillips

Some people ask “Why native trees?” and “Why bur oaks?” It’s a little bit like asking “What’s the big deal with sandhill cranes?” True, the conservation of all native birds and trees is important. But the bur oak, like the sandhill crane, is in desperate need of protection and is symbolic of the unique and fragile ecosystems of the Great Plains. Without careful and enlightened seed collection, germination and planting, bur oaks and other local, native trees will become nostalgic curiosities limited to a few protected preserves. The impact on countless creatures—including ourselves—would be detrimental, serious and lasting.

Farmers' Markets and the Local Economy

The Lincoln, Neb. Haymarket Farmers’ Market showcases the fruits and vegetables of the season. (M. Forsberg /Nebraska Tourism) 

By Megan Jackson

On a recent Sunday at the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market in Lincoln, Neb., a couple strolls through with their dog and a large, empty shopping bag. Stopping to chat with long-time farmers and market vendors, Bob and Ruth Johnson from Johnsons Farm, they take their time making a loop around the market, sipping coffee and filling their bag.

A young family stops to enjoy the banjo playing of a local musician.

The kids from Chisolm Family Farm greet customers as they walk by and offer up samples of their aged pepper jack cheese.

Climate Change is Fracking Society

By Auden Schendler

Fracking isn’t only happening in the gas fields. Because of the never before seen and almost impossible to grok (or solve) problem of climate change, fracking is happening all over the environmental movement.

Moms are fighting kids. Boards are fighting staff. Nonprofits are fighting each other. Left is fighting right and left. Republicans are getting sick of their weird and lame leaders, like Romney, Gingrich and McCain, who clearly understood climate science until they didn’t understand it and are spinning off on their own to fix the thing.

A Dazzle of Hummingbirds

By Paul A. Johnsgard

Query a typical Nebraskan as to whether he or she has ever seen a hummingbird or a UFO, and the response is more likely to be in the realm of flying saucers than flying birds. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are common migrants in eastern Nebraska, and a few stay on to breed along the Missouri River Valley, but it takes special efforts to be able to see them. During May, they migrate through the state rather rapidly and rarely stop for more than a day or so at bird feeders before continuing north to begin nesting in the Dakotas, Minnesota or southern Canada. However, the fall migration is a more leisurely one, with the first adult males usually arriving in mid-August, and some females and immature tarrying into middle or late September. It is then that one’s best hopes for watching them can be realized.

Sonny's Corner

We are proud to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Education Amendments of 1972, a portion of which is commonly referred to as Title IX. As Ms. Petersen so eloquently sets out, it opened a door for women athletes to perform at levels and locations not previously available to them. It is regrettable that 40 years later there are still isolated pockets of resistance to the letter and spirit of Title IX.

By Shandi Pettine Petersen

I recently walked through the University of Nebraska’s sports facilities for women and observed the ease with which the players worked out, played and showered. It was so different when I played volleyball for the NU team in the ’70s.

Immigration in Nebraska

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