Major Climate Change Litigation in Bagley, Minnesota?


I  never would have dreamed that the next time I would see Bill McKibben in person might be Bagley, Minnesota.  Or that there would be potential to meet James Hanson ~ yes, the dude who challenged NASA for suppressing his work on Climate Change ~ in this tiny county seat!  But Bagley, a town of less than 1400 people, may very well become the place where Climate Change Activists make their next major step forward.

I had no idea what I was getting into when Dan and I agreed to attend the hearing for a couple women in Clearwater County.  I actually thought it was two young ladies who had been hanging with Winona LaDuke, one of whom I’d met, so I was anxious to show support.  If I hadn’t been so busy, I might have actually read the event, Googled the names, and realized how major this case was going to be.  And if I’d thought about it for a second, I’d have realized the girl I’d met was facing an issue in North Dakota, not Minnesota.  But I showed up, believing I was supporting folks in the Anti-Tar Sands Pipeline Climate Change movement.  And once things got rolling, I was amazed.

When the hearing began, it was to arraign a fourth defendant in the case, Benjamin Joldersma, who was late in being charged with a felony crime.  His role in the event would become clear in later testimony but first we walked through his getting consolidated into the case with the three other defendants, Annette Klapstein, Emily Johnston, and Steve Liptay.

Valve 1

So, what did these people do to warrant felony charges?  They carried out an act of civil disobedience in the name of protecting the planet.  They put their lives on the line to help increase awareness, among the rest of us, that the world is running out of time to make the changes necessary to prevent even more catastrophic climate events.  They put themselves at risk for arrest to show that we need to act now if we’re going to prevent the 100,000+ lives lost every year to Climate Change.

On October 11, 2016, the two women reportedly entered the Leonard, Minnesota valve station and started to shut down the pipeline.  This action was planned to coincide with the International Days of Prayer and Action With Standing Rock.  Along with their cohorts, they were able to shut down every tar sands pipeline entering the US in an act of love & solidarity.  In Leonard, Minnesota, a shut down of Enbridge’s line 4 and 67; TransCanada’s Keystone pipeline was closed in Walhalla, North Dakota; Spectra Energy’s Express pipeline in Coal Banks Landing, Montana was eliminated; and Kinder-Morgan’s Trans-Mountain pipeline in Anacortes, Washington, reportedly offline anyway, was also stopped.  Democracy Now! had a brief report.

Here’s the report from the industry… sounds like they are saying, if you use the Emergency Shutoff Valve, you could rupture the pipeline.  I think that is something we might want to investigate, don’t you??  Since Enbridge has shown us that they can take up to 17 hours to “realize” a ruptured line is a ruptured line and not a bubble they need to push from the system with increased pressure, it might be nice to think we citizens could, should a spill be happening, turn off the valve and save our town.  What we really need is to stop relying on fossil fuels and move to renewables with intensity.  NOW.

Back to our hearing…

Annette Klapstein took the stand and explained her history with the Climate Change movement.  She became active in 2009 and was one of the Seattle Raging Grannies that chained themselves together in rocking chairs to stop a Shell oil rig from heading out for Arctic Drilling. By the end of the summer, Shell sent ships back to Norway and abandoned drilling efforts in the Arctic.  Annette testified that she realized, in order to fight for social justice, it would require work in the arena of climate change.  In 2014, she was part of an effort to block oil trains in Anacortes, Washington and Shell subsequently dropped plans to add a rail spur… once an EIS was required.  Annette’s position: Civil disobedience is the only option citizens have left with a government beholden to banks and fossil fuels.

She explained that their intent in closing the line was to stop Tar Sands oil flow to prevent ecocide.  The operation was done safely by giving notification to Enbridge 15 minutes prior to closing the valve and again 5 minutes before the action happened.  In fact, when they began to turn the valve to close it, they could see the screw turning down as Enbridge closed down the line remotely.  When asked if there was an imminent threat, Annette explained that there is.  We have super typhoons increasing in the Philipines, Washington has had the worst air quality for the last two weeks, and there are fires raging in British Columbia.  Over 100,000 people are dying annually due to Climate Change, we’re in the middle of the 6th Great Extinction, and each year, the scientists explain that the trends are looking worse.  Climate Change is happening faster than we predicted every year.  Coastal cities are facing crisis and droughts continue to intensify.

On cross-examination, the Prosecutor asked a few main questions to each Defendant.  Side note, just after the Judge accepted a motion to join all the cases as one for efficiency,  the Prosecutor made a request to sequester the Defendants.  This means that they would not be able to hear each other’s testimony.  A discussion ensued with the Defense Attorney noting that allowing each Defendant to hear the other would prevent reiteration of details already explained by the other Defendants.  The Judge agreed that sequestration would defeat the purpose of joining all the cases and prevent the Defendants from their right to be present at each critical stage of their trial.  The Prosecutor’s request was denied.  I’m thinking he didn’t want them to hear his questions as he basically had the same questions for each Defendant:

  • Are you a Scientist?
  • Was there an active oil spill present?
  • Were there individuals in immediate danger on the site?
  • Have you engaged in letter writing or legislative contacts in Minnesota prior to this action?
  • How much carbon dioxide did you prevent with the shutdown?

Annette also got extra questions: Can you define ecocide? and When will the world end?  Oh, yeah, and How did you get here? (implying that she is a fossil fuel user).  Annette had an excellent response to this question in noting that the system is set up to require her physical presence but that she was able to secure a ride from Seattle with a friend who was delivering a car to Minnesota.  So basically, she had very little carbon footprint above what was already needed for the friend’s original journey.

Emily Johnston was our next Defendant.  She has been active in Climate Change work since 2011 when she got involved with and participated in the Keystone XL protests.  KXL was subsequently denied by President Obama.  Sounds like that civil disobedience worked!  By the way, was named based on the fact that, if we want to keep the Earth viable, we need to remain below 350 ppm of CO2.  Where are we now?  About 410 ppm.

Emily was a part of the Kayaktivists who rode kayaks to prevent the Shell oil rig from leaving port.  This is not only risking arrest but literally putting her life on the line.  Emily was willing to risk a felony charge because when Activists take a personal legal risk, they show their vulnerability and this increases the chance that people will take their actions seriously.  She noted the science that says we have about 3 years until we hit 4.5°F (2°C), the point of no return… the point where we can’t really make a difference that will allow our planet to remain viable.   She contends that we have no time for small changes.  The solution is to reduce emissions by 15% each year as we begin reforestation and regenerative agriculture.

Emily also explained that Civil Disobedience is a derivative of English Common Law which allows if, say, a house is burning and a baby is inside, you to override the law of breaking and entering the private residence to save the life of the baby.  In other words, it’s acceptable to break the law for a greater good, a higher law.  [On cross-examination, the Prosecutor would ask her if there were any “babies attached to the pipeline”.]

Emily made clear that the Activists are not “fighting Enbridge”, they are “fighting Tar Sands”.  She believes that civil disobedience is required to increase consciousness of the danger of Tar Sands.

Benjamin Joldersma was our third Defendant to take the stand.  Benjamin has three children from 2-7 years old.  His most compelling testimony regarded explaining the tough decision he and his wife made in him being a part of this work.  I was in tears as he noted that he wanted to be able to look his young daughter in the eyes when she one day asked what he did to try to stop Climate Change.  I cried because I too feel an obligation to my son when I think about the work I do in water protection.  Ben discussed the effect the Paris Climate Talks had on him: even with agreement by 197 countries that we must to something, we will still bypass 2°C.  All legal efforts have been exhausted.  Civil disobedience is our only option.  He told a story of a 2015 camping trip where he met some climate scientists and, based on their stories, he realized we were out of time.  Ben’s role on October 11th was to call Enbridge with a notification of the pending action at 15 minutes out and 5 minutes out.

Steven Liptay was our final witness and he was simply a cameraman documenting the activity.  He believed he was within his First Amendment rights to document the happenings and share the information with media outlets.  He had a pretty impressive array of Climate Change work to date including work as an intern on Everything’s Cool, cameraman on Do the Math, and he worked on the HBO documentary How to Let Go of the World And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.  And, he IS a scientist, having an MS in Environmental Policy and working as a Biologist for Audubon.  He believes that when mainstream media is not telling the story, it requires independent media to inform people on what is happening.  There is a Climate Change Emergency and he wants to inspire others to take action.

I was so impressed with each of these four people.  Not only for their courage to take a strong stand in fighting Climate Change, but for their coherent and articulate explanations of what they are doing and why they are doing it.  Their passion to save our planet from its imminent destruction is admirable.  Their commitment to civil disobedience is commendable.

In the end, each of the four Defendants plead Not Guilty to the charges.  They are claiming their actions are “Necessary” as the legal means for addressing climate change have been exhausted without response from our government and corporate leaders. As citizens, our only recourse remaining is civil disobedience.

I think the fact that 45 just disbanded an Advisory Committee on Climate Change is a good indication that they are on the right track.

Photo credit to Daniel Gaither.

Local News – Second Glance Farms


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Note: This article was published in the Farmers Independent last week. My second byline! Front page… below the fold. 😀

Second Glance Farms hosted an open house on Saturday, July 22nd.  Visitors walked the many gardens, enjoyed the greenhouse that is the heart of the operation, and then gathered for a talk given by Nancy Kuhta. The presentation space, full of beautiful art, depicted Second Glance’s theme of Diversity: art, science, geometry, color, math, and even spirituality.  Everything is connected in this space where each task is done with contemplation and mindfulness to listen to the earth, the seeds, the sun.


Inspiration: An interactive contemplation area celebrating the intersection of Intention and Imagination.

Donnette Rizzo, a librarian from Chicago, spent the last few days at the farm and shared her experience of helping to create an interactive space from willow stems depicting the integration of Intention and Imagination as Inspiration.  This Venn diagram honors both the individual ideas and the confluence of the two, just as Second Glance Farms honors diversity as its key to success. Nancy once gave diversity presentations to Walmart employees but now she and her daughter Jannel are working on a diversity of tasks.


Jannel and Nancy Kuhta display an ear of Blue Eagle Corn and a jar of Rainbow Corn.

You may know the Kuhta’s from past adventures with Nature’s Gardens, which produced bedding plants.  Or perhaps you’ve seen some of their landscaping work.  If you have the new telephone book, the cover shows a flower garden they installed at Bemidji State University.  Or maybe you ran into them at Carlson Greenhouse.  More recently, they have begun to grow their farm, inviting others to share the beauty of their abundant flowers and vegetables.  After first linking to the farm-to-school program with Bagley Public Schools and working with Fireside and U of M at Itasca Park, they are now reaching out to the community at-large.

Nancy has been gardening for forty years, starting with digging in her mother’s garden in Chicago as a child.  Her focus is on protecting heirloom varieties that are nearly extinct.  Her goal is to lead by example and encourage others to replicate her efforts.  Nancy reflects, “We visited a seed bank and realized the importance of the North with the 12-hour day and we said, ‘We’ll help’.” With 1000 tomato plants in 25 varieties, they are going to offer U-pick so that people can experience a variety of heirloom vegetables at reasonable prices.  I tasted several of the lettuces and each was delicious in its own way; the crunchy, the buttery, and my favorite, the peppery arugula.

7-22-17 (15)

Jannel and Nancy Kuhta are passionate about seed-saving for endangered varieties like their Blue Eagle Corn.

Lincoln Lettuce, like that harvested at the Lincoln plantation, is available.  Or you can secure some Beauty Way Bean seeds to help bring these beautiful beans back to abundance. But Nancy’s true passion is Corn.  She will share with you in detail about Blue Eagle Corn, often called Peace Corn. It disappeared about the time of the Trail of Tears and in 2010, a group of Pawnee gave a Kansas farmer the last 25 seeds in known existence to plant, as his land was their old homeland.  For the first time in memorable history, that year the Pawnee ate the corn of their heritage.  It is said that when Blue Eagle Corn returns, it will bring peace.

The garden and nature speak to all ages and are wonderful places for the generations to connect.  Kathy Mitchell of Minneapolis expressed her appreciation of how nature has brought her and her father together.  A dedicated Catholic who once saw salvation only through the church, he’s begun to spend more time with trees and has found a connection that brings him closer not only to God, but also to his daughter.  Jannel shared about her experience with a child who explained to her that “the plants like you to sing to them”.  This youngster took Jannel to the Back Forty field so she could sing a song to the watermelons.  Later she let Jannel know she’d introduced the watermelons to the pumpkins.


There is beauty throughout the garden.  Flowers and hand-painted signs designate long rows of tomatoes.

 When asked about the name Second Glance, Nancy notes that the beauty of the farm will cause you to give it a Second Glance.  They are offering local produce, grown naturally, with a variety of tomatoes, squash, herbs and corn.  You can contact Nancy and Jannel at to arrange a visit.

If you pay a visit to the farm at 19008 Highway 200, you’ll also get a chance to meet Corn Dog, about the most serene animal I’ve ever met. Found nearly dead among the corn in an Oklahoma garden and nursed back to life by Jannel, Corn Dog would not leave the garden area for months after being discovered.  He would greet Jannel every day at the garden gate.  If you see him here at Second Glance, take a moment to say hello and give him a scratch.  He will calmly look you in the eyes, and if you’re smart, you’ll follow his lead and spend some time in the garden.

Book Review ~ This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt Is Shaping the Twenty-First Century



Before I begin, I want to put in a plug for the Bemidji Library because I happened upon this book there and I am often amazed at the progressive array of books they seem to always have facing out on the displays.  It’s pretty incredible how much I love the books I see as I walk through their aisles.  I don’t recall ever being in a library where I feel more resonance with the displayed books than I do in the Bemidji Library.  So thank you, Librarians!  You’re making this library great for me.

As an activist, I often struggle to comprehend how things work or how to best move forward, and I frequently feel like I can never do enough.  Change takes time.  And sometimes, like when a company wants to build a tar sands pipeline through your watershed, for the river that supports a large part of your nation, you can feel like you’re running out of time.  In This is an Uprising by Mark and Paul Engler, I found much solace, encouragement, and a feeling of empowerment.

Klein Praise

This is an Uprising weaves itself around several examples through time, breaking down how the use of non-violent action has been, and is likely to remain, the best way to overcome oppressive governments and outdated cultural beliefs.  It discusses how we make change by being courageous and standing up for our beliefs, even when we seem like the minority.  In the end, we often find that people can be far more tolerant and open-minded as time progresses and we evolve as a society.  And that they are most likely to see our way if we approach with a message of non-violence.

The book does a review of the two main strategies of structurally based organizations and movements and how a hybrid of the two can be most effective.  The generally accepted founder of structural community organizing is Saul Alinsky, author of the 1971 Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals, considered by many to be the Bible for Activism.  His work is contrasted with that of Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward who co-authored the 1977 Poor People’s Movements: Why they Succeed, How they Fail.  Movements are more fluid and free-forming, often making the bigger and/or faster steps forward, while structural organizations have the capacity to build the communities and administrative practices that allow groups to hold gains as they progress.  The book’s discussion on the pillars that uphold the culture in our society depicts how they can be toppled in moving to a new evolution of our culture; one more tolerant and supportive of those whose voices were previously not being heard.

In fact, research done by Erica Chenoweth (University of Denver Professor of Political Science) and Maria Stephan (U.S. Department of State Strategic Planner) showed that nonviolent movements have been twice as likely to succeed as violent insurgencies. In fact, while violent insurgency may occasionally succeed, non-violent uprisings bring about more lasting and peaceful results.  Old data claimed that if 5% of a population stood up, they could successfully challenge their government.  Evaluating a database of social movements worldwide over the last 100+ years, Chenowith and Stephan discovered that a mere 3.5% of the population is needed to challenge it; no government can withstand a movement of this small size.   In the United States, that would be 11 million people.  Mass non-cooperation CAN bring change.  Just ask Slobodan Milosevic.  And by allowing people of diverse backgrounds an ability to participate, civil resistance, as opposed to physical violence, can more easily make peaceful and lasting change.  Erica asks in her Tedx talk:

What if our history courses emphasized the decade of mass civil disobedience that came BEFORE the Declaration of Independence, rather than the war that came after?  What if our social studies textbooks emphasized Ghandi and King in the first chapter, rather than as an afterthought?  What if every child left elementary school knowing more about the Suffragist Movement than they did about the Battle of Bunker Hill?

This takes us to the ideas of the Pillars of Support.  Education is one of the key pillars supporting our culture.  If we change how we educate, the focus of cultural knowledge changes, ideas of how things work expand.  Other pillars include Media and Religion.  When the Media finally broke the stories on Standing Rock, the movement gained recognition, validation, and a mass influx of new funding and supporters.  Subsequent to the camp being dismantled, several new camps have arisen, carrying on the cause.   Standing Rock is like a plant that, having blossomed and sent out its seeds, created exponential growth in its influence by recreating itself many times over.

The Marriage Equality Movement was greatly helped as Religions continued to incorporate more ideals around the acceptance of people without regard to their sexual orientation. Once the old bias of the faithful against homosexuality had become less and less acceptable, the numbers of people supporting legislation for gay marriage overwhelmed those who continued with the old tenets of intolerance.

Other pillars are more coercive and controlling: the Police, the Courts, and the Military.  These groups are made up of individuals who, when face with immoral and violent acts against peaceful protesters, will likely side with the resistance, rather than the oppressors for whom they work.  In order for an Empire to maintain control over its citizens, they must  be obedient and the powers that be rely on the above three groups to maintain obedience.  Any action to upset the status quo be must be quelled.

Interestingly, while Police and Military showed some support for the Water Protectors at Standing Rock, it remains to be seen whether there will be successful civil suits filed in the Courts against the likes of TigerSwan, a firm working security for Dakota Access without license in North Dakota.

Gene Sharp writes, “Obedience is at the heart of political power.”  The book contends “And if popular disobedience is sufficiently widespread and prolonged, no regime can survive.”

Dictator photo

In the second half of This is an Uprising, the focus is on how non-violent groups move forward successfully and the techniques and shortcomings that can cause efforts to backfire and/or lead to downfall.  There are two major concerns that can derail movements, infiltration and violent disruption.

With regard to the temptation to turn to violence, Michael Albert, leftist activist warns:

It’s really quite simple.  The state has a monopoly of violence.  What that means is that there is no way for the public, particularly in the developed First World societies, to compete on the field of violence with their governments. That ought to be obvious.  Our strong suit is information, facts, justice, disobedience, and especially numbers.  Their strong suit is lying and especially exerting military power.

A contest of escalating violence is a contest we are doomed to lose.  A contest in which numbers, commitment, and increasingly militant nonviolent activism confronts state power is a contest we can win.

Ghandi argued that to resort to violence is to “cooperate with the Government in the most active manner.”  Which brings us to the other concern: infiltrators, or agent provocateurs.  Did you know that a paid FBI informant supplied the first firearms to the Black Panthers?

A friend of mine has asked, when attending meetings of the new movements forming since the election of 45, “When will we be having training in non-violence?”  She understands that, for a movement to succeed, the participants must be trained formally in civil resistance.  Once emotion rises, it’s too easy to revert to violent response.  Training is vital to developing skills needed to not succumb to reactionary tactics in the heat of the moment.  For true success, there must be a total commitment to non-violence, and it must include training that practices with mock demonstrations.  This is where the structured organizing tactics are critical as they have designated practices for bringing in new members.  The Movement supplies the passion but the Organization administers the path to success.


Activists and concerned citizens alike will find this book a readable explanation of how non-violent civil resistance can bring about change.  It may very likely give you hope a bit of for the future.

And Yet They Persisted


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Well, what do you know?  A couple women work tirelessly, taking heat and weathering criticism, only to have a Maverick come in and get all the credit for defeating the latest (Round 5?) attempt at killing ‘Obamacare’.  The Senate is no longer the “grown up” part of Congress.  It’s sad to see our government failing so bigly.  [Sorry, but you know I had to do it.]

There were five red-state Democrats who also helped defeat this bill. Claire McCaskill (Missouri), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Jon Tester (Montana), Joe Manchin III (West Virginia), and Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota) all likely felt pressure to support the Republican agenda to kill Obamacare but voted “No” on this attempt.  As most thinking Americans know ‘Obamacare’ as the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, I’ll use that language moving forward.

So Thank You, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).  [Susan has been in opposition to the current Senate repeal-and-replace idea from the get go and, miraculously she has thus far avoided being a Twitter victim of 45.  But Murkowski took a huge amount of flak from Twitter outbursts to outright threats, both from peers and the Secretary of the Interior – among others I would speculate as this fear-focused Republican force appears to work best via intimidation.]

And yes, I’m sure you’re both used to the fact that women often do a lot of work for which men get credit.  [It’s in every conference room across the country.  A woman brings up an idea which either gets no reaction or is summarily dismissed.  Minutes later, sometimes only seconds, a man brings up the same idea and everyone is interested, excited, and exuberant.  It’s the SAME IDEA, People!  And that is the topic of conversation in women’s bathrooms across the nation.  Yes, gentlemen, we do go in there, in groups, to talk about you.]

Thanks to you ladies, and some other brave souls, once again, the Republicans have failed.

You have to wonder what Barry is thinking about all this.  I mean he endured 8+ years of criticism and doubt (not to mention death threats & being burnt in effigy) only to find himself being held up by many as one of the most productive Presidents in our history. And now, one of his biggest accomplishments, one that was hard fought through constant opposition, appears to be nearly indestructible.

We’ll see how the current Administration and Congress continue to bumble along, possibly with success in making changes.  Maybe? Someday?   But at this point, it’s pretty clear that any changes they make in order to cause the ACA to fail will be the reason it does. Yes there are many shortcomings in the ACA, which was acknowledged from the start.  It was always known that there needed to be further work to get to a system that worked better for Americans.  But we needed SOMETHING put in place to get us started.  We needed a first step.  And there are thousands of examples where the Affordable Care Act has save lives, or at the very least made them more livable. Even with the constant push from Republicans that this was going to fail, that it required complete repeal.  Many Americans will say that they HAVE coverage now when they didn’t used to but with the compromises made to accommodate the insurance industry, most Americans also continue to see coverage costs increase, sometimes exponentially.

At present, it seems the biggest victims of the ACA are the Republicans who continue to try to fight it.  Their efforts make them look evil, heartless, or at the very least uninformed on how many in this country live on a daily basis.  And the fact that their efforts continue to fail just makes them look impotent.

Among my cohorts there have been some recent discussions about what it’s going to take to get a government that finally represents us, the American people. I was shocked to read about happenings in South Dakota earlier this year.  Maybe you heard about it? I’m not much of a News Junkie and only occasionally will commit to listening to NPR of late  – there’s just too much foolish coverage of 45’s antics.  Here’s their coverage just prior to the voter-approved political reforms being overturned by legislators.  Looks like South Dakota voters aren’t taking this without a fight.  South Dakota’s motto is: Under God, The People Rule.  Guess we’ll see how true that is.  Maybe South Dakota will teach the rest of us how to take back our government.

Though I’ve taken a hiatus from news in part, I will say that Dan and I watched 45’s address to the Boy Scouts of America in its entirety.  We can only see 45 (not the crowd) and Rick Perry behind him, who provided much comic relief.  But I was able to see brief coverage of the crowd during that event on either the Daily Show or the Late Show (have watched a bit of that of late) and I was Disturbed (yes, with a capital D!) to see young men, supposedly honorable young men, reveling and fist punching the air and contorting themselves as 45 told his crazy story about Levitt and his sex yacht.  Everyone gives 45 a lot of flak for his politicized speech to a group of young people; typically those who address this group focus on civic and personal responsibility or values and ethics that are (supposed to be) a part of Boy Scout Law:

A Scout is:

  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent

I would say many of these scouts were anything but Reverent ~ feeling or showing deep and solemn respect.  OK, so I also have to post this, because I find it just a tad bit creepy:

Boy Scout Oath or Promise

On my honor, I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Maybe it’s time for us all to be a bit more reverent with regard to Health Care.  And I am hopeful that Schumer and McConnell’s declarations that it’s time to “Move On” from the Repeal Plan will come to light.  As Shumer said, “And let’s turn the page in another way.  All of us were so inspired by the speech and the life of the senator from Arizona. And he asked us to go back to regular order, to bring back the Senate that some of us who’ve been here a while remember.”  Maybe the Senate can return to being the Grown-Ups of the Congress.

And if you’d like to hear a good debate on healthcare, I’d direct you to the 7/28/17 Kerri Miller show, of which I caught the last 10 minutes and they were quite good.  Real health care providers talking about what REALLY needs focus in coming to solutions.  And, holy cow, when I went back and listened to it from the beginning, I realized my buddy Deb Dittberner was at the table!!  Go, Alexandria Doc!

Until next week, I hope you all have good health.  Or, if not, good health care.

Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons.

DEIS Comments – A Review


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The Draft Environmental Impact Statement Public Comments are in and I’ve read hundreds of pages of commentary from my fellow Minnesotans and others who have expressed concern and support for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3.  Mine is not a thorough analysis as there are thousands of pages of commentary to peruse and I’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.  However, I thought I would provide a brief update from my explorations.

The comments have been published alphabetically by submitter’s last name.  In the case of organizations, they are listed by the organization’s name.  I received eight email messages of the comments, each with a listing of files.  The first email included:

  1. DEIS – Local Units of Government
  2. DEIS – Federal Agencies
  3. DEIS – State Agencies and Legislators
  4. DEIS – Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  5. DEIS – Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
  6. DEIS – Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe
  7. DEIS – 1854 Treaty Authority
  8. DEIS – White Earth Band of Ojibwe

The third email had:

1) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, A
2) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, Anonymous, Part 1 of 2
3) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, Anonymous, Part 2 of 2
4) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, B
5) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, C
6) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, D
7) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, E, Part 1 of 3
8) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, E, Part 2 of 3
9) DEIS – Citizen Written Comments, E, Part 3 of 3

Comments from the letter H took up three of the email notices with 20 sets of documents total.  The eighth email covered letters R-Z.  But I want to talk about the G letters.

I was tickled to see Dan’s letter first, followed by mine.  We both sent several pages of input: science and emotion, along with DEIS page numbers to which we referred.  We’d put some time, thought, and consideration into the letters we sent.  I was surprised to see an almost even response in the Pro-Pipeline and Anti-Pipeline comments.  But when I looked at the detail, here’s what I found.

Occasionally a letter was hard to tell whether it was positive or negative to the pipeline but with a bit more reading and investigation I was able to classify them all in the end.

The number of Pro-Pipeline comments was 34 while Anti-Pipeline had 37 comments.  This seems like even support for both options on its face.  But a deeper look reveals some interesting detail.  Also, as I paged up and down through the letters in writing this blog, I realized some people had provided input multiple times.  If we remove the duplicate entries from the same person, the Pros go to 32 [one guy sent in two pre-printed cards, though he did have different comments on his cards; the first said “Pipelines suport good paying jobs. They Also put alot of money into Local economy!” and the second said, “I support the Line 3 project.  It produces good jobs!” – at least he spelled ‘support’ correctly the second time around] and the Antis go to 31.  [More on this below.]  For analysis purposes, I counted each response individually, even if it was one of three responses from a given individual.

Of the 34 support letters, 24 were simply Pro Pipeline G Cardpre-printed postcards, many with little or no comments at all, just a name, address and phone/email.  Three were DEIS Public Meeting Comment Sheets (papers provided at the public open houses for people to provide commentary).  Five were emails and two were letters.

Compared with the letters speaking to opposition to the Line 3 project, there was only one pre-printed card and even it had some commentary.  There were two DEIS Public Meeting Comment Sheets, one handwritten letter, and 32 emails, many of which were multiple page documents.
Anti-Pipeline G card

Looking solely at the pages of input, there were 89 pages total.  Each email had its own page in the document, as did each pre-printed card.  There were 34 pages for Pro-Pipeline, and 55 pages for Anti-Pipeline.  Dan and my letters accounted for seven of the pages.  Ken Graeve of St. Paul accounted for seven pages on his own but did so via three messages, each with a different focus: one on invasive species and the threat to agriculture and forestry industries in Minnesota; one on energy policy and whether this “facility” can comply with relevant policies, rules, and regulations of other state and federal agencies and requesting a review of alternative energy sources; and one on the flaws in the DEIS analysis of impacts to wetlands from inconsistencies in the reported acreages (313 in one table and 440 in another) to the failure to consider hydrologic connectivity of wetlands to false assumptions made about stormwater runoff and erosion.  Ken’s professional experience lies in the fields of ecological restoration, environmental compliance on construction projects, and invasive species control and prevention.

Other Anti-Pipeline multiple submissions were made by Jo George, Eileen Grunstrom and Roger Grussing of Pillager. Roger focused on the same issue of “4 times safe” rules which should be required of pipelines in both submissions but he provided an email and a more detailed DEIS Public Meeting Comment Sheet.  Eileen submitted support of the Friends of the Headwaters stance in opposition to the pipeline with a list of the many waterways at risk in the corridor and then replied with additional personal information for consideration asking in the end, “What kind of legacy am I leaving to my children and grandchildren?” Jo George of Minneapolis noted three focuses in as many contacts:  what the state (not national) need is for the pipeline in light of falling fuel demand; the absence of spill data provided by Enbridge (much of it was redacted from the public information shared); and consideration for the greater economic picture including fishing, tourism, and recreation industries among others.


On the Pro-pipeline side, the two multi-submissions of two individuals account for their loss of two counts.  Similarly to Eric Gulland of Duluth, John Gilbertson of Puposky submitted two pre-printed cards: one with no comment and one stating: “It is rediculos that all these meetings need be. After 60+ years of using pipelines to move oil, without a doubt its proven to be by far the safest way. Everything is in place lets get to work.”

I did read most all the letters for the R-Z section and one of my favorites was this from David Reisenweber of Duluth: “It’s really stupid to run tar sands oil through water rich Mn.”  He pretty much states the obvious simplicity of this debate.  Water is life.  The oil, tar sands not the conventional crude with which Minnesotans have a long history, is not destined for us but will most likely end up as exports to China.

The Sierra Club gave me high hopes with their exhaustive (33 pages of legalese) explanation on how the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) DEIS did not meet the MN Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) requirements of an EIS and that there were multiple failures in methodology for evaluating impacts.  They soft-pedaled their criticism of the DOC in saying these errors are due to the highly complex nature of an EIS, especially considering the “scale and range of the project and the many impacts to water, land, air, health, safety, security, and communities”.  Sierra Club encouraged “the Department to prepare a new DEIS in close coordination and consultation with the Department of Natural Resources, the Pollution Control Agency, and other agencies who can lend both their knowledge and experience on how to prepare an EIS so that it complies with the requirements of MEPA “.

I’d second that.



Love Water Not Oil Tour 2017


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What a fantastic weekend we had in Duluth!  We headed over to hit the Honor the Earth 5th Annual Love Water Not Oil Tour featuring Nahko Bear and Annie Humphrey among others.  We decided to go over Saturday and get oriented and see town before the Sunday concert.

We arrived in the afternoon and headed to the AirBnB in Hermantown.  When we arrived, Josh, our host, was building a pergola on the large patio deck.  They have a private entrance space with a living room, dining area with refrigerator, coffee maker and microwave, bathroom and three bedrooms each with a queen bed.  It’s a lovely and simple space with a nice bed and enough pillows.  Super clean and quiet.  We really enjoyed relaxing in this space late in the evening but first, we headed to the Canal Walk.

We found tremendous traffic at the Canal Park.  We finally found a parking space under the solar panels near Sister Cities Park and the Lakewalk.  We enjoyed rock spotting and seeing the wide open Lake Superior as we walked the shore but it was dirtier than the North Shore – a little too industrial for me.  There were a bunch of young men enjoying The CRIBS, also referred to as Uncle Harvey’s Mortuary, a large concrete structure of varied legend.  Like little crabs, the boys scuttled along the thin walls of the structure, occasionally jumping from the heights.

We headed inland toward the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace, recommended by friend Anne Paulson who once lived in Duluth.  We found the Blue Heron, like a compact Crate and Barrel, to be full of lovely spices, sauces, cookware, tools and table coverings. A really fun space to explore.  Just across the way is the Art Dock, full of fun treasures.  We didn’t have time to head up to J. Skylark  but their lower level window display looked really enticing.  We were out of time and had to head to our parking space.  From there we headed up to Downtown and stopped after finding a back alley parking spot (free!) to the Electric Fetus.   It was like going back in time and I took some time to listen to the top albums – none of which was familiar and only one of which made an impression.  Sammy Brue might be worth a listen if you’re into young upcomers.

We decided to head to the neighborhood with the Co-op grocery on 4th Street – neighborhoods with co-op groceries are usually pretty great.  We found some good stuff – raw cashews for more Ambrosia, some quick packs of Indian food for dinner, cheese curds (hey we are super close to Wisconsin here – they gotta be good!), and some organic tortilla chips (not very good but cheap).  At the checkout, we asked the guy if there was a good place for a little picnic lunch.  He directed us toward Canal Park and we said, “No, no… that’s too People-y.  You know any place less People-y?”  “Ah,” he says, “Lester Park.  There are nice waterfalls.  It’s a little hike in but worth it.”  So we put it in the Google Map and head toward 51st and Juniata.  We get there and it’s a pump house. 😦  Just to the left, there appears to be a small parking area… and we see a Butterfly Garden (sorry no pic as we were super non-plussed) which had a couple benches among some sparse wildflowers.  We found a short trail and hiked over the flora finally stumbling upon a small creek.  We decided this could NOT be the right place – no waterfalls.  So we checked again and Google said we need to be at 61st and Superior.  Lester Park DotAh, yes, this is the place!  We drove up in search of a parking place and find the entrance to The Deeps at the top of the hill. If you go in at the trail at the purple circle, you will hike a mere 20 feet and find yourself at an amazing space in the middle of town.  There are 30’ falls that pour into what is called The Deeps – a deep hole into which the locals cliff dive.  Above this space is a rolling rocky creek with smaller falls where Dan took this photo.


We lounged in the water, climbed the rocks and explored for a bit before heading back to the AirBnB taking the Seven Bridges Road ~ we’ve traveled it now!  We took Skyline road up to the top and saw the Hawk Ridge Reserve though no migrations are scheduled until fall… mid-September looks like prime time, though you’ll want Halloween time for seeing the big Eagles.

We actually watched some TV at the AriBnB – Red Green.  Nothing really worth watching on that black box.  Don’t miss TV a bit.

The next morning, we headed into Superior, Wisconsin to hit the Anchor Bar and Grill – Yep, Sunday is a busy day for this little dive.  Their menu is hilarious!  I highly recommend this super cheap burger joint.  Fresh fries and good burgers.  Dan had the Bacon Cheeseburger and I had the Cashew Burger (cashews and swiss – yum).  There was another couple looking for a quiet table – the Elvis was blasting. Julie Sando Cat Since we’d done the same thing minutes before and had room at our table, we asked them to join us.  They were waiting for their friend, “Crazy Nancy Nelson” (who did turn out to be a HOOT!), and we had room for three so the two sat.  Julie and Joey Sando turned out to be a splendid addition to our party.  She soon mentioned they were seeking driftwood for her art.  Art?  What kind of art does she do?  Stained glass.  And driftwood???  Well, you should check out her stuff – it’s pretty awesome. I forwarded her info to the Rec Lab Creative Activities committee because she’s seems like a lot of fun.  Looking forward to seeing her again sometime.  So glad we invited them all to join us as it made our brunch a super fun time.

After burger breakfast, we headed to the Bayfront Festival Park for the Love Water Not Oil show.  Arriving early again, we walked directly into the venue and found the Honor The Earth organizers who asked if we were volunteers.  So I guess we could have volunteered and got in the show free but we’re happy to send funds to HTE.  We ended up volunteering anyway and were assigned the vendor gate.  This was a happening place and I only got one F-Bomb from a lady who was really pissed she had to walk to the north entrance to enter with her ticket after walking all the way to this vendor gate already (like 100′).  It wasn’t that far a walk (maybe 100 paces further?) and I’m hopeful her day ended up going better.  The rest of the day I thanked the people we kept directing to the ticket entrance for not F-you-ing me and it gave us all lots of laughs… and perspective.  I guess that was payback for all the F-yous I’ve dished out to customer service people on the phone over the years!  I’m better than I used to be but still a work in progress.

So, the big perks of being at the vendor gate?  Got to see:

  • Corey Medina ride out on his motorcycle for some wind in the hair before the show started.
  • Friends Nicolette, Sarah & Keri from HTE coming in to set up tables and Cedar heading in and out for lunch.
  • Greeting Winona LaDuke as she came in to begin the festivities with ceremony.
  • Saying hi to Don again – he remembered me from the Futurists conference where we first met!  {Dan says I’m pretty unforgettable.  Aw, ain’t that sweet?}
  • The arrival of the Teepees.
  • Nahko Bear driving into the venue – AWESOME Groupie Moment. 🙂
  • The adjacent and handy port-o-potties! We let several folks in to pee before they headed to the ticket entrance.  It was a super laid back show and fun to be a part of it all.

I was impressed with the ceremony that opened the show.  There were some prayers and songs and the elder that did ceremony for Winona spoke of the importance of honoring women – how we treat our women is how we treat the Earth.  So true.  It’s time for change.  She challenged us all to bring respect to how we allow others to treat us as women and to protect women assuring safety and respect for them all.  Maybe if we can find love and respect for each other, we can start to heal this planet in a big way.

The teepees were also inspiring.  They had the Keystone XL teepee and the teepee from Standing Rock. teepee Dan got some good shots.  The musical line-up followed:

  • Elizabeth Jaakola & Family – Fond du Lac Musicians who sang great original songs with my favorite probably being Covfefe, which consisted of a bunch of mush mouth, jive talk and a perfectly understood chorus of “Covfefe”.  😉 I’d heard them doing this one at sound check and had chuckled my way to the vendor gate as I listened. Nice songs about standing up for Mother Earth, being strong as Indigenous, and having fun too.
  • Thomas X from the Red Lake Tribe – really nice Rez Rap.  His tunes are all available online.  Support him if you can – he had a sweet little baby on the blanket with him when I stopped by to give him props.  Welcome to the Rez is a nice mix and I had my fist in the air for Standing Rock.  TOTALLY love this dude after giving more of his albums a listen today.  Check him out.
  • Two for One – a South Minneapolis hip hop rapper. Couldn’t find him online anywhere but he had some good lyrics and seemed like a nice kid.
  • Maria Isa, a self-described SotaRican, rapped her way through a set. I thought it was a strange sound – kind of all over the place – couldn’t really get into it before it changed into something else.
  • Two short stints by the Sunshine Boys and a guy from California – both presented indigenous songs from their traditions – really nice stuff.
  • Annie Humphrey – first time FINALLY getting to see her play live. What a powerful woman!  Here’s a great video perfect for this Love Water Not Oil show which is all about celebrating riding horses against the flow of the proposed pipeline… in case you didn’t know, Horses can Kill Snakes:  It’s so interesting to see her perform – she is such a blend of her mother and daughter, both of whom I know better than I know Annie, that it creates a wonderful feeling inside me.  Thomas X mentioned that he first saw Annie perform when he was 13 and her performance brought him to tears.  I can definitely relate.  Beautiful voice, lovely music.  Definitely find your way to listening to some of Annie’s work.  Here’s Edge of America.
  • Corey Medina and Brothers. FANTASTIC.  Great blues/rock sound.  Dan kept watching them thinking they looked really familiar… until we decided Corey reminds us a lot of Alex Crankshaft.  Here’s a Tiny Desk Concert they did (though the two cats with Corey in this one are much younger versions of the two on stage this weekend, Gary Broste & Eric Sundeen).  Ah, here’s one with them playing Want it All at Rail River Folk School.
  • Nahko, AKA Nahko Bear, leader of Medicine for the People. 20170716_164919_1500312296296 This was the artist that brought us to this show.  He spent most of the afternoon hanging out with the crowd… giving bear hugs, taking photos, chatting.  I was astounded at the variety of people coming out to see him.  I expected the hippies, the water protectors, the Indians but not the young white moms, old white ladies, three older white dudes from the Cities.  All ages from toddler to seniors, all colors.  I guess the only ones not represented were oil men and dumbass rednecks.  Dan and I were grateful to be the final photo op before he headed in for some lunch and pre-show preparation. And he remembered me as the one who welcomed him at the gate!

Definitely check out his music.  Here are a few videos:

Glacier National Park, Oh My!

I have been so stoked about this adventure to Glacier National Park.  A friend of mine, Laura Burlis, was selected to be their Artist in Residence for the month of July.

I am so proud of her.  Of course, I think she is amazingly talented and am so glad to have learned as much as I have from her as I’ve learned to work with Polymer Clay.

Since the use of a car is pretty necessary in a park as large as Glacier, Laura was hoping for someone to drive out with her on the long drive west.  I was immediately up for it though I wondered how I’d make the time!  [Did I mention that I thought Glacier was in Alaska?]  Once I realized it was only in Montana, she couldn’t beg me not to go.  The plan was hatched for Laura, me, and her sister Jenny (love her too) to road trip to the park.  Yahoo!

We also planned a stop at Little Bighorn where there was some possible historical family significance.  I was intrigued to hear the whole story.  We met up in Moorhead where Dan dropped me with Laura and Jenny.  He was scheduled to pick me up in Detroit Lakes at the Amtrak a week later.

We ended up staying in both Glendive and Big Timber on our way to Glacier and, along the way, we hit both the Custer House and Little Bighorn Battlefield.  I do recommend the Astoria Hotel in Glendive – very reminiscent of the Hampton Inns I stayed in during working days.  The family that owns it is super friendly and nice.  They have wonderful beds.   Big Timber found us in an AirBnB (  Adam was awesome friendly and offered to bring us breakfast but we were happy with the food he had available in the fridge – made eggs and waffles with coffee.  The beds were comfy, even the air mattress bed I had, and we had amazing fireworks for hours, it being 4th of July.  Apparently EVERYONE does their own fireworks in Montana.

So, the magic of our trip really began when we arrived in Mandan.  I was suddenly flooded with all the memories of DAPL.  I felt like I was riding down the road to revisit that site with Sylvia and Rita, only it was me, Laura and Jenny and we’d only go a short ways down 1806 to the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.  We were there to visit the Custer House but arrived just as the last house tour ended.  We hesitated to spend the $5 to go in to just look through the windows and walk the grounds but… we paid and entered.  As we drove into the parking lot, we watched as the Tour Guide, in full military uniform of the day, was heading into the closed gift shop.

Laura jumped out of the vehicle and headed up to knock on the door.  Jenny and I wandered out, asking the lone woman in the parking lot if she’s seen the house tour and what she thought.  She noted it was wonderful and we mentioned that we were trying to make it because Laura and Jenny are great-granddaughters of a member of Custer’s band. We were sorry to have missed it.

Wait, did you know Custer had a band?  Well, I didn’t but apparently he was quite a showboat.  He also was very concerned about his hair – blonde locks that he combed across his forehead, kinda like someone who is in the news daily at present.  Thankfully, he’d left his band at the river before heading to the battle at Little Bighorn or I wouldn’t be telling you this story of a trip with his great-granddaughters!

As we headed up to meet Laura at the building, this woman followed us and asked if we’d said something about a relationship to Custer.  Jenny explained to her who they were and then the woman told us why she was there.  Turns out, she’s directing a documentary for Susan Sarandon’s film company, ReFramed Pictures, on Custer.  The goal of this company is to reframe stories that “shine a light on socially relevant causes, people and issues”.   The woman was Katia Lund, co-director of City of God.  Her camerawoman, Gwendolyn Cates came up at that point and we started talking.  She was surprised to hear about the Custer connection but then talk turned to her wanting a magnet but the gift shop being closed.  I was like, “We can get them to open up for a magnet. Sure!”  So I headed up to the door with her.  When the young woman answered the door, she wasn’t sure if they could but I was like, “Can’t you put it on tomorrow’s sales?” and Gwendolyn was like, “I can pay cash.”  She let us in the store and all five of us crowded in quickly.  The gal at the counter, Ree, was responding to Gwendolyn when I really saw her and blurted out, “Holy cow, you look just like my best friend, Steph!”  Ree pointed at me (just like Steph does) and said, “You’re just trying to butter me up!” And I was like, “OMG! That’s how she points at me too!  Can I take a picture with you?! I have to send her this!”  Well, this got her and she cracked up and we ended up posing for a shot.  19775Then Gwendolyn got her magnet and we asked if it might be possible to get a photo with the tour guide.  They told us “Jonah is still in the back.”  We found him and he was SO GRATIOUS!  He agreed to come outside for a photo and ended up spending about 10-15 minutes more with us filming and discussing Custer, his band, and the House at Fort Abraham Lincoln.  He and Laura went back and forth confirming what the other was saying while the filmmakers asked questions and we all enjoyed the stories.  I filmed with Jenny’s camera for them, though the sound was rough with the wind.  It was just magical to watch this unfold!!  Not sure if they will end up in the film or on the cutting floor but it was an amazing way to start our big trip to Glacier. It also saved me wanting to go all the way to the No DAPL site in Cannon Ball.  Katia was able to tell me it was mainly all cleaned up with only a few prayer ties on the fencing.  Not worth the drive to see, especially with all the driving we had ahead of us!

The next day started with Laura & I hiking Makoshika State Park.  The Campground volunteers were super friendly here.  I didn’t know before this trip that people volunteer to be Campground Hosts for State/National Parks and basically get a camp spot for agreeing to welcome guests to the park. This guy was super friendly, driving to the entrance to welcome guests before the park opened, and his wife welcomed us at the trailhead with maps they had posted.   It was a steep hike, straight up but pretty cool to see a dinosaur fossil and check out the Badlands.

Then we headed to the Little Bighorn Battlefield and I recommend, if you make it to this park, you definitely take the Apsaalooke Native Bus Tour.  Rusty gave us an AMAZINGLY detailed description of the day’s events with a focus on the Indian perspective.  The tour is $10 but it’s a full hour of story and with a couple stops for photo ops.  We also heard the Ranger talk with was more of a Rah-Rah-Troops perspective but which did acknowledge that one of the best parts of the park is the addition of the Indian Memorial, Peace Through Unity, which honors the fallen warriors in the battle.  It’s gorgeous iron and stone work and worth the walk up the hill, even in 90-degree burning sun.  We had a lovely picnic in the shade of a tree on the edge of the military graveyard which was strikingly similar to Arlington Cemetery.  The girls agreed my Ambrosia was delicious – finally think I’m getting that recipe right, as were the lovely Honeyberries (with sugar and tapioca).  Glad I could contribute such yummy goodies for our travels.  We also had garlic hummus, cherries, chips and crackers.  We are good on this trip!

The next day, we headed for Glacier and drove up the Going-to-the-Sun Road to make our way in to the McDonald Lodge where Laura was meeting Ginger to check in for her month long stay.  Going-to-the-Sun is a great way to see Glacier if you only have a couple hours to drive through – yep – it will take you a couple hours just to drive THROUGH this National Park.  Dan had set me up with the NPR audio files that accompanied the 20+ stops along the road so we had stories the whole way.  It was nice to hear a lot of history and ecology as we made our way through stunning vistas and past beautiful waterfalls.

We arrived on the 5th and spent three gloriously hot days with a lake just outside our door.  Ginger gave us the basics: Bear training (behavior, pepper spray, best practices), best trails, cleaning/paper supplies for the cabin – we’ve got TP for months!  We spent the first little bit cleaning.  It is a rustic cabin that the Artist in Residence enjoys but there is no housekeeping like at the lodges!  Then,  hot, we got on our suits and headed into Lake McDonald. After opening the wine, of course.  It was so refreshing.  Cooled off, we showered, snacked, and were in bed about midnight.

At 12:30, the bed started shaking!!  We figured it was an earthquake as we felt a small aftershock but didn’t have that confirmed until the next day when people with access to the outside world told us there had been a 5.8 quake in Lincoln, MT.  The next morning we were up and out to the Avalanche Creek trail.  We arrived about 11 and headed up, stopping for a lovely picnic lunch about 1/3 of the way up to Avalanche Lake.  We decided to save ourselves for more hiking later by not going all the way to the lake – we’d seen the best of the trail with rocks and waterfalls along the creek and big shady forests up the hill.  Instead, we headed to Apgar Village for Ice Cream.  I don’t recommend Eddie’s Ice Cream.  It’s pretty overpriced and I think the Huckleberry Ice Cream I had at the Blue Bunny Parlor in Le Mars a few weeks back was much tastier.  For all the traffic, I was surprised to find ice crystals in my vanilla scoop.  After that we headed to McDonald Lake where we had tickets for the Boat Tour.  Victor & JT were great and at the end, Laura took a moment to introduce herself as the Artist in Residence and Victor didn’t miss a beat before offering to come model for her!  I wonder if those dudes will be keeping her company now that Jenny and I are gone!  Had a late dinner of BBQ Ribs, Bakers, Slaw, and wine slush.  Got showers and read a bit before bed.

Friday we slept in.  Then we headed to the John’s Lake hike, over McDonald Creek.   It was an amazing hike and we spent quite a while at the bridge where I was able rock hunt and get in the water.  Jenny dared me so I had to!  Laura took an awesome video which I should be able to get posted soon.  We took a short tour of GTTS road to Logan’s Pass.  GoatsWe got lucky and found a mountain goat on the way to Logan’s Pass.  Then on the way back, we found 2 more… with babies!!
Got back to the cabin in time for quick showers before the Jack Gladstone Triple Divide show that evening. Up late enjoying our last evening together.

Saturday we got Jenny to the airport and watched the Full moon set – She was HUGE! Laura and I drove through Whitefish, stopped at the grocery, found a rummage sale and headed to the West Glacier Amtrak stop. Turns out, the Amtrak website auto books you for East Glacier (which I didn’t even know existed) when you type in Glacier as your criteria in the station search.  West Glacier (WGL), Essex, and East Glacier are the three stops in the park… in that order.  Needless to say, getting to WGL at the time the train leaves GPK (East Glacier designation… you can see why I thought I was at the right stop, eh?), meant I missed my train.  Luckily, Dan could re-book me for the next day so… ONE MORE DAY IN GLACIER!!
Though we were starving, we still hit the Oxbow trail before heading back to the cabin to make a lovely lunch of a potato, broccoli crown, onion, pepper, egg and cheese lunch.  It was heavenly.  And then, with a full belly… NAP!  The days are so long that we still had time for some more cleaning, swimming, meeting some staff kids hanging out nearby,  hiking a Creek Trail and then hiking back to the cabin via the lake shore.  We made a lovely dinner salad and then headed over for the Astronomy program.  We were BUSHED after two nights of little sleep so hit the beds by 11:30.

But. did you notice that we did a Triathlon?  Yes, we did hiking, swimming and sale-ing.  What?  Yep, hiking, swimming and rummage sale-ing!  Love that!

Sunday resulted in a successful train boarding and I was able to finally leave Laura for her real work to begin.  We were able to find lots of lovely rocks, formations, wildflowers, and even some critters for her to incorporate into art while she enjoys the stay at Glacier.  I can’t wait to see what she makes.


Enbridge Line 3 “Replacement” DEIS Commentary



So I took time to read some of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Line 3 “Replacement” Proposal that is currently open for public comment. [Through July 10th, if you want to add your commentary.]  I think anyone in the middle U.S. should be submitting comment as the Mississippi Watershed is pretty large.  If we fuck it up here near the headwaters, the rest of you are screwed.   You can read it here: (see below on how to submit your comments).

I was offended that the DEIS sounded in large part like a very cheery presentation from the conscientious, safety focused, public utility giant… Enbridge.  Yes, there were statements and commentary from various groups that appeared to be concerned more with Mother Earth than the profits of a large corporation.  But these were in the Appendices.  It appears that Enbridge’s account has been taken at face value and presented as fact with the most likely plan being implementing this pipeline.  There does not appear to be much consideration for telling Enbridge to simply go through Canada and leave Minnesota alone.

In addition, when I asked Department of Commerce representative Jamie MacAlister whether Tribal Resources were being given priority consideration in the matter, I was assured they were NOT.  WHAT?!?  The right of people to live by their ways with regard to their food, water and spirituality took no bigger place in the decision than a company’s desire to make some money?  It does not seem to me that the needs of the citizens of Minnesota (and anyone downstream of us) are being given due consideration.

There is an ability to see where Enbridge concerns lie if you look at this passage (Appendix P, Volume 1, page 253). Enbridge Comment 1The main concerns are with infrastructure and inconvenience, not less dense human populations, food foraging environments, or birthing grounds of our migratory birds.  In fact, they are more concerned about “crude oil flooding the highway, causing accidents” than how that crude oil flooding might affect the way of life for those of us who rely on wild rice and fresh fish as part of our diets.

While Enbridge calls this a Line 3 Replacement, it’s in actuality a Dumping of the old Line 3 and an Addition of a new, bigger Line 3 through a new corridor.  Did you know that while you can’t leave a fuel tank buried in the ground long-term, we currently have no policy requiring the removal of an oil pipeline once it is no longer actively used?  Why would we NOT require this dirty infrastructure be removed rather than leaving it for the next generation to clean up?  Enbridge again seems pretty concerned with infrastructure issues rather than clean water or wildlife and human impacts.  (Appendix B, pg 14)

Removal EnbridgeEnbridge assures us that, if abandoned, the old line will be purged and cleaned.  If it’s done in any way similarly to the “clean-up” done in Kalamazoo, reason would predict low expectations of a thorough job. The inadequate work done by Enbridge to clean up oil spills should be considered when evaluating their proposed methodology for cleaning up their abandoned pipeline.   Their integrity leaves much to be desired, so much so that to work with this corporation should be seen as illogical and foolish.

When you consider Enbridge’s track record, it is just a matter of time before Minnesota has to deal with ANOTHER spill.  We (Minnesota AND Enbridge) already hold the record for the largest inland spill in US History.  Now Enbridge is looking at running pipeline that carries substances they can’t even reveal the nature of to us in the public.  In addition, they want to run it in places where no pipeline has gone before, including many wetlands, creeks, and large rivers.  I’m hopeful the powers that be in Minnesota come to their senses and refuse to allow this to happen.

Enbridge reports in the DEIS that they have all kinds of safety programs in place to prevent “accidental releases”, their euphemism for oil spills.  The report says there would be a 10- minute response time to stopping a leak.  (Chapter 10, pg 98)Spill Response In light of Enbridge’s safety record, we need to not only consider what they propose to do but how they have done things in the past.  How long did it take to respond to the leak alert on the Kalamazoo River oil spill, AKA The Dilbit Disaster?  Ten minutes? Ah, no.  It was slightly longer.

The first alert came on Sunday, July 25, 2010, at about 5:58 p.m. Eastern time when there was a rupture in Line 6B near Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River and a little more than a half mile downstream of the Marshall, Michigan pumping station.  At first Enbridge ignored the alarm.  Then the operators assumed it was a “bubble” in the line so they increased pressure (resulting in more oil spilling faster) for hours.  So when did they finally believe the alarms and shut down the line?  More than 17 hours later.

Yeah, let’s just let that sink in for a moment.  17 HOURS.  That’s a LOT longer than 10 minutes.  Regardless of what Enbridge claims they “will do”, we know what they HAVE DONE and that needs a full review in the DEIS.  A review for EVERY SINGLE SPILL.  Enbridge has a worse track record than their competitors and this should be considered as we decide whether or not to grant a Certificate of Need to THIS corporation.

Also, knowing that it’s only a matter of time before there is a release of dilbit into our environment, should the State of MN decide to grant a Certificate of Need and/or Routing Permit on this project, we need to know exactly WHAT is in this dilbit.  What is dilbit?  It is a form of bitumen (tar sands are pretty much asphalt) that has been diluted with a chemical solution to make it flow through the pipeline.  Without it, the thick sludge Enbridge proposes to transport just cannot move.  It is illogical that a proper evaluation of the environmental impact of installing this line can be done if there is not full disclosure of the products that will be coursing through the pipeline and, should there be a failure, spreading into our natural world contaminating both land and water, animals and people.   The National Science Foundation has already warned of the use of dilbit in areas with high moisture content (i.e., wetlands) due to the way the cathodic protection is affected. Yes, much of the new proposed path lies in areas of wetlands.  And reduced cathodic protection means there will be a greater propensity for pipeline degradation… and thus, leak points.  In addition, it’s been noted that the density of dilbit means it will sink in water, not rise, so how are we to know when there is a release if it all stays at the bottom of the wetlands, creek or river?

If the MN Department of Commerce agrees that Enbridge has a need and allows the pipeline to be installed, the accountability for all spills will land on this Department.  All lawsuits, all cleanup, all injuries and deaths, including those of plants and wildlife, would be the result of the Department of Commerce decision.  When the pipeline leaks, and it will as all pipelines eventually leak, the State of Minnesota will hold all accountability.

It is far wiser to err on the side of caution, especially as the world has already reached peak oil – the hypothetical point in time when the global production of oil reaches its maximum rate, after which production will gradually decline.  We are at the end of the fossil fuel era and any attempt to continue the pursuit of fossil fuels only prolongs the time until we make a transition to renewable energy.  There will come a day when there is NO MORE to suck from the Earth and we humans will have to finally come to terms with the development of cleaner, safer sources of energy.  We will either do it in a way that is planned or in a crisis, but we will eventually convert to renewables.

Minnesota needs to be a leader in this process.  We need to show that hemp is another way to meet our energy needs.  We’ve started that with recent legislation.  If oil spills ruin our farmland, that will be a dead end.  Not to mention the effect on our tourism industry.  We need to continue the path of innovation and energy conservation and abandon the path of dirty oil.  I say that Minnesota must, if morality is to brought to bear, act in the interest of clean water, healthy people, and safe environments.  We need to say NO to another pipeline coming through our state.  And we need to tell Enbridge it’s time to remove the old Line 3 from the ground to assure we prevent ongoing and long-term contamination possibilities.

The above are my comments sent to the Department of Commerce on the Line 3 Replacement Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  If you’d like to send you comments, you need to do so by July 10th.  Email your comments here:

Reconnecting with Family

Whew!  What a week!

So maybe Char can give you an  Harn update for this past week or perhaps she and Lucky are keeping that to themselves.  I was excited to see how the gardens fared and am grateful that Char was willing to not only feed the cat but also keep my gardens, especially my lettuce troughs, watered while we visited family far and wide.

Mother Nature was on our side as we got rain about every other day so little watering was needed outside those lettuce troughs.  And BOY was I surprised to see the garden!  The peas were almost 2’ tall when I left and now they are over my head.  A few of the potatoes had started to sprout but now we have a jungle of potatoes that are over a foot high.  The lettuce was beginning to sprout and now it’s getting a bit more production.  And the spaghetti squash I planted just before leaving is thriving in the dirt mound we dug from the pond area. So I planted a few more things here to keep them company.  I hope to have videos posted soon of the garden change at

I didn’t think much about weeds in the garden while I was away.  There was just too much to see and do on our trip.  We started at 4 AM heading from Minnesota to Indiana.  Thought we’d arrive about 9 PM but ended up getting a flat tire in Northwest Indiana and had to backtrack to Merrillville for a replacement.  Lucky for us, the local National Tire & Battery had one of our weird sized Smartie Tires in stock.  And thankfully, Uncle Dick, Dawn and Jim were willing to put off their dinner to meet up with Dan and me for some Portillo’s (a Chicago area hot dog chain I used to adore when calling on customers there).

We finally arrived in Indiana about 1AM to a tired Steph and Steve. We had to get to their place as we had signed up to watch their son Rook the following day while they were at work.  The next morning, Rookie was happy to see me… after a moment of confusion since he hadn’t gotten to see me the previous evening.


We had an fantabulous day of playing in the water outside.  Oma Vicki came to play with us and we enjoyed the unbearable hot weather by having the hose spray up in the air.  Rook loved it!

I made a dinner of burgers, mashed potatoes (Steph’s favorite) and broccoli and we enjoyed catching up before heading on to Fran and Ed’s that night.  Tom’s grandparents have been keeping later hours and so we ended up chatting into the wee hours on arrival.  It was so good to see them.  Ed looks fantastic with his new beard and hipster moustache.  He’d lost 10 years from the last time we’d seen him!

Fran and I made a trip to visit Momma Chris – who wasn’t even surprised to see me!  She’d figured out it must be Jami coming to town when Fran told her that she had a surprise for her. That Chris is a sharp one.  We enjoyed checking out her latest creations and even got a little tutorial on card making before heading out for a late lunch at my favorite place – El Sabor Catracho.  Love those pupusas!  We also tried the tacos and they were HUGE and delicious. You should check them out if you’re in Indy:

We headed next to Arkansas to give Dan a chance to see his Aunties and Cousins.  The Gaither Family Reunion was to be held Father’s Day and we hoped to catch as many family as we could, since trips to Arkansas are harder now that we’re even further north.  We arrived late in the day for a stay with Cousins Barb and Jimmy in the Pool Suite.  There’s not really a pool with the room… the room used to house their indoor pool!  It’s a huge space with a pool table, dining area, sitting area, you name it.  It’s space for days!

We relaxed with Barb & Jimmy catching both Suicide Squad and Moana (I recommend both) before leaving for dinner with family at Mack’s Fish House, a local favorite.  There was already a wait by the time we arrived for Aunt Marie’s Birthday dinner and an even longer line once we left.  You should check it out if you’re in Heber Springs. You will NOT go home hungry. I ordered a chicken breast and mashed potatoes thinking that would be light fare.  Well, I hadn’t accounted for the beans and ham, coleslaw and chow-chow.  Chow-chow is this amazing mix of tomatoes and onions in a sugar/vinegar base – so yummy!  I had it with the chicken and potatoes after Cousin Danae talked about enjoying it over fish and it MADE the meal.  Oh, and I did cheat and try a few nibbles of their hushpuppies.  It was so worth it.  I didn’t have any after effects that I noted but I am pretty sure they have wheat in them.  That outer crust of the hushpuppy is to die for.  They make them small (not like the giant ones we enjoyed as kids at Long John Silver’s) and you can fill up on these babies before dinner arrives.  Beware!

It was good to see Aunt Inez and Uncle ArvillePool Room Marie.jpg at Marie’s dinner since we didn’t catch them at the Reunion the next day.  And Dan finally got to meet Danae’s Tony – a super cutie who is always smiling.  Ann and Marie looked beautiful and we loved catching up with stories from everyone. SO GOOD to get hugs from everybody.  Barb had cake and gifts planned for her place so we headed there and I got to meet Cousin Kelli, Barb’s daughter. The two of us hooted it up giving Barb no end of grief in trying to take our pictures – I like that girl!

Sunday was the Reunion and it was a small gathering. Photo Review We hoped to catch all five Aunties on this visit – They’re like Pokemon, Gotta Catch ‘em All! (Shout out to C.) Turned out that Jean didn’t make the Reunion so we missed her and Linda and Shirley are BOTH in Florida now so didn’t make the long trip to Heber for the reunion.  So we only captured 2 of the 5 Aunties this trip.

The next day was a 14 hour run to Colorado to stay with Tom and Celia.  It was really wonderful to see them both happy and healthy.  And we got to meet the Grandkitty, Jax.  He is super handsome and a real talker.  We had lots of good eats with Celia and I making her mom’s Pepper Steak one evening.  It was good stuff.  Celia trained me on cutting the peppers, not into strips but dicing them.  This made the dish WAY easier to eat.  Plus they put broccoli in it which was an interesting twist.  We also had my favorite pizza – Beau Jo’s (twice) and the local Mexican place, Three Margarita’s, was also good.

I was happy to have time to finally get a chance to play Life is Strange, the video game for which Tom’s company’s new game, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, is the prequel. It was really good.  It’s a teenage (tweenage?) girl story about life choices.  Every choice you make has consequences in the game and it’s a crazy story taking place at a prestigious high school.  Now that I know the ending, it will be fun to replay and try different choices.  I can see why it was so popular.  I’m looking forward to the Deck Nine game which I hear will have even better graphics and playability.  There’s a review here: Or you can see a preview play through here:

Even better was getting to hang with Celia. We spent a whole day (while it was damnably hot outside) gaming in the A/C. Every time we get to visit with her, Dan and I get to know her a bit more and I must say, I’m happier and happier with Tom’s choice.  Which is tough because, you know, no one is EVER good enough for your kid…  😉

We headed for Mom’s in AlexandriaDSCF0197 (shortens our drive by a couple hours) Friday morning.  We were able to avoid the Dakota’s so spent no money there. 🙂 Nebraska was pretty wide open – reminded me of Kansas with a few more trees.  Cutting across the northwest corner of Iowa, we happened (Dan planned this, of course) through Le Mars, the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Capital of the World!  So we had to stop at the Blue Bunny Ice Cream Parlor.  Pretty sure Dan ticked off a bucket list item here.  It was a cute town with Ice Cream Cone statues everywhere – all decorated up.  Lots of fun stuff.

As we crossed the border into Minnesota, we found ourselves in Worthington.  Unbeknownst to me, this was the childhood home of Gramma Natalia. We were trying to figure out more about the town – reminded me of Alexandria in a way – and Dan searched for restaurants and what did he find?  Pupuseria & Restaurant Crystal!! Maybe I should have called this post Pupusa Serendipity…  Anyway, we enjoyed a lovely meal of Pupusas de Queso y Pupusas de Puerco along with some Pineapple water – who knew there was such a thing?  Reviews are bad on this place, mostly for service, but the food is worth the not great service.  And, while it may look closed when you arrive, there is yummy goodness awaiting inside.

We wound through the countryside of southern Minnesota all the way up to Mom’s.  It was good to see her and Tom and get a good night’s sleep after four nights of late nights and not a great bed at Tom & Celia’s.  We did go out couch shopping with them but I’m hoping they get a new bed instead and put the futon in the living room – it’s a dreamy sleep!  We’ll head back there in October so hope to have a better bed then.

On the way to the Harn, we stopped at the Nemeth Art Center in Park Rapids for a show featuring Aaron Spangler, a new acquaintance.  The theme was First Colony and I was hoping to hear him speak… but it was a showing for one of his pieces and other folks spoke.  We listened to the first speaker – Sheila Dickinson – who gave a wonderful story on privilege, colonization, and art.  Here’s a piece she did on the recent Walker scandal: She was a lovely person, owning her own privilege, and contemplating how we can find solutions to display art in a way that is more true to reality, not depicting or whitewashing the genocide and racism that fill U.S. History.  If we ever want to find peace in this country, we need to have open and truthful discussions on our history.

It was good to get home to the Harn.  Lucky was purring louder than ever, so happy to see us.  Of course, we fed him right away.  Dan found the piece that finally made sense of Char’s nonsense text about “rocks wearing bras” that I thought was just some kind of weird goofing off or typo.  I absolutely LOVE my new Rock Art.DSCF0002

Sending Cards by Mail

I had the lovely experience of receiving a card in the mail this week.  CardIt was most humorous and produced a huge smile. I was so tickled to receive it that I had to post it on FB.  This was a card to let me know how appreciated I am.  There weren’t a lot of words inside but every one told me that the person who sent it loves me bunches.  And that means the world to me.

I send a lot of cards myself and I’m usually much wordier.  [Imagine that!]  Sometimes I write all around the inside sentiment in order to send as much info as I can and I was struck by the huge impact of the simple few sentences that I got in this card.  It’s true that notion that a lot can be expressed with a few words.  Though I don’t know that I can much change the way I’ve always been.  I’m just a wordy woman.

I occasionally send the thinking-of-you card but more often, it’s a thank you that I send.  Momma trained me well as she always encouraged my brother and me to send thank you cards when we were kids.  I am convinced these days that it is one of the most important reasons for my success.

I always sent thank you notes after interviews.  Even when I knew I didn’t want the job.  I believe that this simple act, this quickly completed task, did more for cementing my relationships with people than the actual interview experiences.

It’s a different world we live in today… one of electronic communication, Facebook and email.  All these are great for keeping in touch day in and day out and I love being able to see and hear about what friends and family are doing all the time.  And, as I commented to my husband just today, “When Aunt Inez sends you a comment on Facebook, it’s like you can hear it in HER voice!”  It makes me feel like getting a little hug from her every time!

But I do believe that paper cards, sent in the snail mail, help you stick out in the crowd.  I wouldn’t doubt that a thank you card could very well have been the deciding factor in whether I got hired in more than one case.

Though I will probably never really know the impact of most of those cards I sent, occasionally I do get feedback.  We have an International Dinner group that we joined recently and, after the first one, I sent out a couple cards of thanks.  At the most recent event, I was told by one recipient that it was a Very Nice Card.  And you’d be surprised how many people send a thank you card back for a thank you card you send!

I very much enjoyed spending some time with my good friend, Momma Chris, this week.  She is a Card Sending Maniac!  And the wonderful thing about her cards is that they are all hand made.  When Fran and I arrived for our visit, it wasn’t long until we were looking at all her recent creations.  Of course, we had lots of questions.  “How did you do that?  Is that a stamp?  Was this done with alcohol inks?”  Chris, of course, had other examples to show us and when she went back to her Card Studio, I told Fran we should just follow along.  Within minutes, she was running us through a tutorial using blue painter’s tape, ink pads and paper.  It was so outside the concepts I envisioned.  She is a master of so many ways of making beautiful cards.

And where do all these cards go?  They go to everyone.  People she hears about with illness, those who she just misses (lucky me!), friends of friends, people in her church. I don’t know how many she sends out every week but she has people on rotation to help them get through whatever they are going through.  She told us a story of recently meeting a husband of a woman to whom she’d been sending cards and he was so delighted to meet her because she’s brought such joy to the woman.

I think what Chris gets out of the deal is an ability to never age.  She’s closing in on her mid 80’s but she looks as young as I’ve ever seen her on this visit and I’ve known her for almost 10 years.  I recall Carl Kasell once telling me, “If you want to do what you’ve always done, you have to keep doing what you’ve always done.” (Or something along those lines.)  He is another seemingly ageless gem of a person.  And I believe this spirit of giving demonstrated by both Carl and Chris just goes to show that Karma is a real thing.

A while back I made a book of a bunch of cards… some I sent, some I’ve received, photos and stories about these cards.  I am so grateful my mom gave me this wonderful habit.  I believe it’s just about the simplest and sweetest way to send a little love.  And who doesn’t need a little love?  I think I’ll send a few cards out soon.