Mr. Dirt wants to build a monument on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. It would be a visitor's center, decorated with his sculpture, commemorating environmental disaster and the dream of a better future.
Mr. Dirt is actually Robert Earl Anderson, a 43-year-old sculptor and dreamer who lives in Magna. You may recall him from a few months back, when he ran for vice president as an independent candidate.Shaving his head and growing a bushy beard, sort of a reversal of the common practice, were done "to make a statement to the world. That statement is that we need to reverse our thinking on what's really important to us." The nominicker shows "I know I am part of the problem."
He's lived in Magna the past seven years, in Farmington about as long prior to then. He was in Salt Lake City earlier.
"And then before that I was all over the world," he says. "I was a road hippie and I traveled a lot." While he traveled, he was "searching for pieces of this dream. I've been working on it for 25 years."
Mr. Dirt's dream is to stimulate the building of "reversal factories," the first of which will cost billions of dollars. The factories are supposed to reverse pollution, recycling everything, creating usable stuff from waste. The first one would build offshoot factories - I didn't get into the technical details.
This lakeside monument, 40 feet across at the base, 32 feet tall, would partly express despair for environmental disasters. But inside, information would be provided about the reversal factories. That's hope for the future, he says.
Renderings of the building-monument show at the top a porpoise sculpture hanging in the center of a broken circle. The circle represents the Ring of Life.
Below that, a baby seal stands on the heads of two dead parents. The elder ones were killed by a distemper epidemic presently sweeping through seal populations. Mr. Dirt cites reports by Greenpeace that indicate PCB pollution weakened the seals, making them more susceptible to distemper.
Beneath the seals are three dead fish representing fish "that carried the PCBs into the seals," he says. The sculptures would be of cast bronze and cast aluminum.
A boulder weighing about 16 tons would support much of the sculpture, in his plans. This is on top of the visitor's center, and the whole thing is supported by giant rebars driven into the earth.
On the front, a plaque proclaims, "When pollutionary practices become more important than Thy living canvas, all earth's children must pay the price."
The price for the structure, Mr. Dirt estimates, is $369,000. He is meeting with Kennecott and other potential donors in an attempt to raise the money.
The porpoise sculpture is already cast. It hung in his front yard for 10 years. His kids managed to accidentally break the fins, but he says he likes it that way.
"It represents to me the decaying of our life forces on the earth, the misuse of our resources of all forms of life. To me the greatest gift we have is the lives that exist on the earth, the animals and the children."
He is upset about what's happening to wildlife. "In the last 50 years our bird population has been cut in half," both because of industrial pollution and habitat loss. Elephants in Africa may face extinction, he says.
"There are many different life forces that are threatened."
One of life's, beautiful experiences, Mr. Dirt says, is watching a sunrise. "But a sunrise alone, without the birds, the animals, the rivers, would be very sad, wouldn't it?"
According to Mr. Dirt, "what is really important to us is the air and the water and the food we eat and the life forces of the earth - the beautiful creations that we can't reproduce.
"To protect these is everyone's responsibility, and I believe that we need to really try to do that."
Mr. Dirt devotes himself full-time to his dream. "My wife has had to take a job working at the LDS Hospital because of the fact that right now, you know, they don't pay much for dreamers."
Maybe the visitor center won't be erected. Maybe the dead seals will remain only drawings on paper. Possibly we'll never have reversal factories.
But we all need dreams, and I'm thankful for the visionaries, from William Blake to Mr. Dirt.