My Life is Magical… October 2018


So the title includes a month and year because I am certain to be writing another “My Life is Magical” blog again one day.  Seriously!  My Life IS Magical!!  So what’s so magical of late?  Here’s what.

I meet the most amazing people…

Tom & Rita prepped tents for two Valve Turners (see more on them below) during the recent Interfaith Power and Light vigil at the Mississippi Headwaters.  I had met them briefly before but it was really lovely to have a little time to chat and get to know them better.  Such interesting lives they shared with me and I am impressed with all they are doing in this Line 3 fight.  While I couldn’t make Sunday’s vigil, Dan was able to get some great photos and share some interesting culture with Annette.  First Colony of the United States??  WTF does this mean?

1stColony

Instead. at Art Leap 2018, an event I planned to attend with Connie weeks ago, I visited Beagle and Wolf Books and made a purchase.  I also wandered to the local health food store which was closed but where Cathy, owner of Bella Caffe and daughter-in-law to the originator of the Third Street Market, was willing to not only let me in but also give me a grand tour and history of the place.  It was fascinating and she was delightful! She even offered to buy me a coffee!  But I knew I’d be back for lunch any minute with friends Deb & Paul so waited until lunch to get coffee.  Their coffee was very good – should I say “beautiful”?  I recommend checking them out if you are in Park Rapids.  After lunch we all enjoyed the bluegrass sounds of Unpolished.  I found them to be quite polished and quite funny (that’s you Mark Bridge!).

During the Leap, I headed over to visit Lauralee Studio where Laura Grisamore has some really interesting art.  She and her husband made me feel so welcome and I really enjoyed seeing all the really cool skulls they have there.  Neat stuff.  I also got to meet Maureen O’Brian who had a GORGEOUS painting of Minnesota’s state flower.  But maybe my favorite was Pat Pope the Bead dude who was hanging out at Smoky Hills Art.  He refers to himself as a Social Artist and his intricate bead work is truly amazing.  His endeavors are very time intensive.  In the background of this photo you can see a bit of the amazing quilt by Robin, owner of Smoky Hills Art.  I recommend you visit to see this lovely work.Pat Pope

The night before I’d been down to PR for The Great American Story event.  It was a very nice event where I had connections to all four of the stories or storytellers.  Two of the contestants were friends.  Paulette Friday and the WonderWeavers (Tina Rohde and Colleen Shashkin) have all captivated me with stories for the last few years so I knew the event would be a good one.  I also got to hear the winner Sue Searing who told a story which began by noting her plans to retire to Minnesota… and during which she regaled her endurance of the heat of Texas during a job interview.  I really loved her story.  And I got to meet more intimately Rose van der Berg whose story was about her relation with her father.  A tale of heartache, abuse, joy, and redemption, it was good to hear.  After she and Paulette did not make the final round, I went over to chat with her.  It was really wonderful to share with her about my own father disowning me for unknown reasons. And to hear more of her story.  While she and Paulette both got prizes for being in the final four, she and I agreed that the connection we made was worth far more.  I am hopeful our paths will cross again.

Hope returns to the Harn…

Speaking of crossing paths, you may recall meeting Hope the Turtle in my blog from August 13 this year.  While I thought the chances of us meeting Hope again were quite slim, we did in fact meet Hope again!  It happened about 6 weeks after Hope was brought to the Harn for a shell repair (after being hit on the road near Itasca Park about 10 miles south).

As Dan and I drove home one afternoon, I saw a small turtle crossing the road in front of the house and we stopped.  The car behind us passed around us with no danger to the turtle but there was a large semi coming in the turtle’s lane.  That driver was able to make a switch to the left lane and thus, avoided hitting the little turtle.  And when I rushed over to snatch the turtle up from the asphalt, I saw the duct tape.  I knew it was our friend Hope.

We drove Hope into the driveway and we gave Hope a NEW duct tape job.  The shell appeared to be growing out and the legs and tail were functioning very well.  In fact, the tail was so tightly tucked when I was working the duct tape, that Dan had to hold it out while I eased the tape into place.  We called Lee, the one who originally brought Hope to the Harn, to let her know.  And then we assured that the edges of the shell had no sharp edges to catch and put Hope in the yard to roam free again.  Hope found the little pond in our yard and found shelter there.

Valve Turners

So this is the most magical part of the recent past…  I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Valve Turners to the area.  It’s been on our white board for months.  And after the last two weeks, I’ve seen so much of them I’m constantly pumped up!

We were able to watch the pre-trial adventure at the Clearwater County court house in late September and it was quite amazing.  [I predict Mayberry meets NYC…  Hopefully the technology of their building will allow for a 21st century trial because this may be the Trial of the Century…  McKibben, Hansen, and Lessig, oh, my!!]

We were honored to host three of the Valve Turners for the night recently and it was wonderful getting to know these people.  They would want you to know that they are nothing unusual.  They are normal, everyday people.   And this is true.  They are just normal people like  you and me.  I know I see them and speak of them as Rock Stars.  This is because I value the risk they were willing to take to send a message that we ALL need to be working to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of fossil fuels.  I am humbled by their willingness to risk jail time to stand against the corporations and governments that do nothing to help mitigate our tremendous addiction to fossil fuels.  For me, they will remain Rock Stars in the fight to end our addiction on fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy.  I’m glad to be fighting with them.  And, yes, any of us can join them.

Magical Neighbors…

We had a chance to host some kids recently at the Harn and our lovely neighbors with an Appaloosa farm let them ride horses, see pigs & geese & turkeys, and pet cats.  It was a lovely day on the farm – thanks to Devin and Amy (and the kids!) for all you shared!!

Our one neighbor Tom has an abundant apple tree in his yard that we love.  Every year Tom let’s us know when it’s time to pick.  And I let my other neighbor Connie know.  This year was so busy for me that Connie got out on a Saturday and by the time I got out three days later, the tree was picked cleaned!!  Luckily for me, Connie was willing to share her haul!

I could go on.  I have the most fun experiences with music, art. fun, food, and life.  I feel like life is very magical indeed.  I hope you can find the magic in your life as well.

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FFFFFFFuck Kavanaugh… On Second Thought, Don’t.

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What a whirlwind many of us have been through this past week with the Kavanaugh case.  It’s a roller coaster of emotions for many of us.  I have run the gamut.  And I have realized much about myself and others through this process.  Much thanks goes to my good friend who texted me about this whole mess late Saturday night.  It is she who has brought my perspective back into one that feels most familiar and compassionate.

But before I get to the compassionate part, I have to talk about the bullshit part.  One, because I think we need to establish truth and two, because there is a LOT of humor being generated off this situation.  [Yes, I am a horrible person.]

First, I have to say that lying is my least favorite thing.  Ask my kid.  He could pretty much do anything, and as long as he was honest about it, he’d not get in too much trouble.  But if he lied? There was holy hell to pay.  So, because I hate lying so much, I find it quite comical when someone is revealed in their dishonesty, and I must say, especially when that someone is trying SO HARD to convince the nation that his horrible behavior never happened and that he is, in fact, a complete innocent.  Did you see how he jumped up to take his oath?  It was like watching a performance of Shirley Temple jumping to attention to salute!

So one of the things that came up in a Kavanaugh-yearbook-photoreview of Brett’s HS yearbook entry was a question about the Devil’s Triangle.  As you may or may not know, a Devil’s Triangle is “a threesome with 1 woman and 2 men. It is important to remember that straight men do not make eye contact while in the act. Doing so will question their sexuality.”  Well, after Thursday’s hearing, there are a whole bunch of NEW definitions added to Urban Dictionary.  Here are some of my favorite entries. For each definition, there is the definition and then an example of use.  [Note, the links are also full of humor but watch out as they can be rabbit holes…]

Devil’s Triangle
A drinking game invented by Brett Kavanaugh during the time he was running for the supreme court and lying through his ass to the Senate.
It involves three cups in a triangle. It’s a quarters game.
You knowdevil’s triangle. Totally not a sex thing.”
And for more detail on the specific testimony…
drinking game involving quarters and three beers where you and your friend Mark Judge sexually assault a woman. Popular with high school kids in the early 80’s, particularly in the D.C. area.
S: Devil’s triangle?
K:Drinking game 
S: How’s it played?
K: Three glasses… In a triangle
S: and? 
K: You ever played quarters?
S: No.
K: Okay… It’s a quarters game.
Or…
Devil’s Triangle
A threesome involving 2 men and 1 woman. Generally one man on each side of the woman who high five after achieving climax, creating a “triangle” type figure.
Or, for Brett Kavanaugh, a drinking game with 3 beers placed in a triangle that utilizes quarters.
Bro, that devil’s triangle was crazy last night! I think our quarters might’ve accidentally touched.
Perhaps the most damning…
Devils Triangle
drinking game where you get a girl too drunk to consent (and hopefully to resist) to having sex with you and a buddy at the same time. Eye contact is to be avoided to provide plausible deniability to your sexual orientation and any other questions that may come up about the event in the future.
Some of Brett’s favorite drinking games include Devils Triangle and Quarters.
And the most for real…
Devils triangle
A pretend drinking game made up on 9/27/18 by “Honorable” Brett Kavanaughwhen faced with credible allegations of sexual assault put forward by no less than four (so far) women. Devils triangle is a threesome with two men and one woman, not a drinking game like Quarters, as Kavanope would like everyone to believe. Devils triangle can also be defined as a lie told under perjury when a belligerent white male feels cornered when confronted with his own disgusting behavior, most likely with the blessing of a patriarchal and mysogynistic system.
Devils triangle is a game like Quarters, except its nothing like Quarters and its actually code for a sexual threesome. Please believe me I have told myself these lies so many times I am beginning to believe them. Help I’m a scared white male!” –Brett Kavanaugh, Supreme Court Hearings
“Can you believe the Devils Triangle that that guy just offered under oath?! It’s obvious he’s lying and no sane person would believe this ridiculousness…” –a sane person with common sense, right before a whole bunch of self-serving, corrupt, and close-minded politicians stood by the lie
Note that I’ve not even gone down the Boofing trail…  How stupid do you think we all are, Brett?  Of course, the old white boys on the Right will buy your truckload of bullshit every day of the week! Lucky you!
In addition to the lying, I had issue simply watching him come in and prepare the desk for his testimony. Totally anal.  He’s definitely got issues.
Watching the testimony showed me how immature Brett is and made clear to me that he was a liar.  As just one example, at 1:27:23 in this video, Senator Whitehouse begins questioning on Kavanaugh’s yearbook transcript to determine the meaning of the words he used in it. The questioning shows him go from serious answering (1:28) to becoming incredibly belligerent at 1:29:50 – “I like beer… Do you like beer, Senator? What do you like to drink? Senator, what do you like to drink?”  He sounds like a high school senior trying to defend himself against accusations of him still being a virgin.  Oh, wait, Brett said he WAS still a virgin in high school…  Hmmm. Maybe.  But I’m guessing not for a lack of trying.  Maybe if he’d not been such a drunk he’d have been able to, I don’t know, thoughtfully and respectfully engage with a woman who might find him attractive enough to wish to engage in coitus?
Based on his “responses” (mostly simply dodging the questions) for Whitehouse and Klobuchar, I can’t see HOW ON EARTH this guy is qualified to be a Supreme Court Justice.  He is an immature, angry, belligerent man-child – thank you America Ferrera!  Clearly, this is what FEAR looks like.
And speaking of fear, I also must talk about the cowardly way the Republicans dealt with the entire day Thursday.  MitchellThey hid behind Mitchell refusing to even ask their own questions of Ford.  I’m not sure of their reasoning in asking another woman to question Ford but I’m guessing it had something to do with not wanting to be seen as attacking her.  As is often typical of white men, in trying to appear like they are helping, they once again come off as disrespectful and sexist.   I don’t think she was hired only to question Ford but she didn’t get too far with Kavanaugh…
Brett’s answers to her initial questions, including about passing out and not remembering things, were ridiculous.  EVERYONE who drank in high school knows, especially if you sometimes drank to excess, that there are ALWAYS times that you don’t remember.  NO ONE has a perfect memory.  And alcohol is REALLY GOOD, especially if you’re in the danger zone on that chart Brett mentioned at making you a non-functioning human who truly doesn’t remember events. You know, the one that tells you how many beers is too many?  This answer alone, that he remembers “everything”, should confirm that he is a tremendous serial liar.  Of course for anyone under 50 [so, none of those mostly white people in the Senate seats], a quick google search confirmed that for you during the Whitehouse questioning on his yearbook quotes…
Ms. Mitchell (1:14 in this video) noted to Brett that this alleged act would be investigated by Maryland Law enforcement if a victim filed a complaint… even to this day.  And he agreed this is fact.  No wonder he is afraid!!  But perhaps he has nothing to fear.  Maryland’s Governor Hogan says their law enforcement will not get involved, likely cementing a win for his Democratic opponent in November, Ben Jealous.
But Ms. Mitchell’s time was up (ironic, no?) when she got to specific questions on Kavanaugh’s creepy calendars.  She was treading quite close to getting into something that might have given us more insight.  The Republicans had hired a professional prosecutor to get to the truth… but apparently only with Ford.  When her questions got a bit too in depth with Brett, all the sudden,  Republicans decided they CAN ask questions themselves!!  Hallelujiah!  It’s a miracle.  Are they seriously this scared of women that they can’t even ask her their questions?  Colin Jost on SNL noted that if they can’t ask questions during a Senate Hearing, then maybe they shouldn’t be Senators.  Also, as Grassley hands things over to Feinstein and she starts to introduce Fotd, you can see Grassley again trying to dig out of a misogyny hole by acting like a sexist asshole.
At 1:33:50 in the video Cornyn lays it out for us all.
CORNYN: So this is not a job interview. You’ve been accused of a crime. If you have lied to the committee and the investigators, that is a crime in and of itself, correct?
KAVANAUGH: That is correct.
CORNYN: So in order to vote against your nomination, we would have to conclude that you are a serial liar.
KAVANAUGH: Yeah.
Yep.  That’s pretty much my conclusion and you fucks voted to push his nomination forward anyway.  Do you have ANY IDEA how this implicates you?  Or is your white privilege so embedded that you truly believe you are untouchable?  Yes, that is the only conclusion I believe I can draw.
I believe SNL captured it completely.  Seriously.  Watch it again.  It’s even better the next time…
OK, but we must return to compassion.  So my friend texted me Saturday evening and we were excitedly discussing how it looks like Kavanaugh is going down, that he will NOT be confirmed to the SCOTUS.  I said we could have a party and “talk shit about that crying baby.” Yes, I was a bit reminiscent of the high school idiot that Kavanagh showed himself to be in his hearing…  Unfeeling, unempathetic, assinine, self-congratulatory.
In the morning, I got from her: “Woke up reminded we are all one. I don’t like that I lacked compassion for another human being, Kavanaugh. The universe knows what is in the highest good of all. May what is in the highest good of all be what occurs.”  And I had to agree: “Aw. You are correct. But it sure feels ugly knowing there is a part of what he is in me! There is a piece of me that knows he is probably hurting. I was thinking this morning that his anger is probably covering his HUGE fear that we are all about to find out his ugly truth. That is a scary place. I hope he realizes that coming clean is a way more positive path. And the one that leads to us most quickly seeing his humanity and thus finding forgiveness possible. The best outcome would be for him and Ford to find peace. And it would be best for all of us to see that restorative justice.”
This is how humane, compassionate, mature people respond to bad behavior.
Though I must admit, I’ve enjoyed the anger and righteousness I’ve been sitting in for the last few days.  There has been much in the Senate hearings to justify anger and righteousness on behalf of women.  But still, I see this as a part of what’s wrong inside me.  Maybe it’s just the process I have to live to find my way forward.

I do often ask, “What is WRONG with people!?!?” We saw a posting at the gas station the other day about an older white couple who are suspected of human trafficking and I was like, “What is WRONG with these people??  What makes you think this behavior is OK??”

Most recently, I have been asking “what is wrong with people?” as I listen to Ford’s account of her sexual assault by Kavanaugh and Judge.  Yes, AND Judge.  He was there.  He was egging on the behavior.  He did nothing to stop it.  He is complicit.  Perhaps this is part of why he had such a horrible drinking problem.  Alcohol is widely used as an antidote to remembering… Problem is, it doesn’t change the truth.  The horrible facts remain, even when we “have no memory” of an incident.

I do believe taking personal accountability for the truth is the way to freedom.  And forgiveness.  If Kavanaugh truly wants redemption, he can come clean.  He can make amends, in whatever way that might occur, and perhaps even his wife and children will be able to forgive him.  But for now, he remains scared and angry.  And I know how that can feel.

I don’t know if there is hope for him spiritually.  But I fear there is a good chance he will be voted in as a SC Justice.  I’ve asked all survivors call the four potential swing Senators and let them know how you feel.  Tell them to vote NO on Kavanaugh.  He is unfit for SCOTUS.  Republicans can do better.  If those two women could have that much influence on Flake with their elevator pitch, imagine what 250,000 of us calling into these four offices to tell them how we feel can have.  Those numbers are hard to ignore whether or not they are your constituents.  They only need to lose two votes.  Call all four and two of them may join us in opposing putting an angry man-child onto the Supreme Court.

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Time’s up, motherfuckers.

 

Elder Happenings

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So two significant Elders in my life have been keeping me busy in the last week or so…  First, Ada is 90!!

Our neighbor and local legend, Ada Windecker turned 90 this month and there was a big community gathering to celebrate her major milestone.  Ada is known as the Mayor, Sheriff, and Historian of Alida – the tiny town where we live.  When we first bought our land, the owner of the local Country Store, now defunct but hoping for a re-opening someday,  said to us, “Alida is population 16, 18 if you count dogs.”  It is small!!  There are now about a dozen folks who live right here within a couple blocks of “town” – basically the old Country Store building, a county maintenance building/defunct fire station, and the township dump.  And Ada’s house amidst them all.  She has raised her own five kids as well as many of the local kids as a Sunday School teacher (and superintendent too!).  The gathering had dozens and dozens of folks come out to wish her well.

Family and friends prepared and served sandwiches, salads of potato/pasta/jello, chips, salsa, coffee, punch and cake.  There were four sheet cakes in addition to her showy cake by which she sat greeting visitors.  You had your choice of white, chocolate, marble, or the ever popular red velvet.  Kids of all ages joined in the fun and just before the program started, about three dozen folks on 4x4s arrived to join the festivities.

The program consisted of much music, which, if you’ve ever met Ada, you’d know was a crucial element.  Mark, an old Sunday School pupil of hers, sang Footprints and then Don, a neighbor who also recently turned ninety, serenaded her as well.  Then two of Ada’s grandaughters, Kayla and Kylie (as I recall – both of Perry’s line – apparently the one which breeds good singers) came up and did a smash up of Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World.  They were outstanding!!  Several folks stood up to share memories and stories of Ada.  My favorite was Perry’s story about the tooty boat ride on Long Lake.  What a joy to hear these memories.  Ada herself spoke for a bit and even sang a little piece of a song for us.  She was overwhelmed by the day.  But the best was held for last.  Her grandson came up to share a song… and Ada’s secret superpower.  Apparently she’d been asking for him to sing and no excuse would do.  When he’d nearly run out of excuses, she turned on her sweet little tears and proclaimed that she simply must have him sing the Lord’s Prayer and boy were we all glad she used her super power to convince him to sing.  No one can resist Ada’s tears. 🙂

The other Elder keeping us busy is Anne Dunn, Anishinaabe storyteller and dear friend.  We have been on the project for over a year now as I believe the original dreaming meeting was at Esther’s house in 2017 with Esther, Anne, & Annie Humphrey, Patty Kakac, Dan and me scheming on what we could do to make Anne’s dream home a reality.  Now, with Anne having a lot, we have a foundation on which to build.  However, before we build, we must demolish! (Photos are from April 2018.)

 

 

The lot she has is full of debris.  Back on June 3rd, Dan and I spent the day with Anne breaking free one of the old trailers that was stuck in the dirt from being in place for so long.  We were able to remove the skirting and wood framing holding it in place so it could be pulled from its moorings and the attached porch could be broken down.  We had been preceded by Barry Babcock who had chainsawed much of an old tree to clear its danger and happily we carted off a truckload of wood for our troubles. We were followed by some strong ones who broke up the deck and got it in the junk piles.

Much of the scrap metal had been carted off – metal has some value for the entrepreneurial soul.  But much of the wood, wallboard, insulation and garbage (the stuff Anne hadn’t yet dug from the dirt) remained.  Some of the demolition work had been piled neatly but there was a large pile with wallboard that was breaking down.  Anne’s curious nature led her to investigate and she found that drywall can be placed on the ground and, as it breaks down, it can nourish the soil!  She began moving pieces of it to an area on the east side of the lot where she wants to grow later.

After some scheduling, Noreen Hautala, Anne, Dan and I were able to find a day that worked for us to tackle the job en masse.  We hoped for more volunteers but we knew the four of us could make nice headway.  We began by removing more drywall from the junk pile and making an even bigger gypsum garden for Anne.  We filled several large construction trash bags with loose debris and re-stacked boards and other large pieces making the material easier for pick-up.   Robert Saxton had said he could arrange to remove some of it with his trailer so we wanted it to look more approachable!  We did an excellent job.  Robert came by a couple days later and carted off much of the mess.

Anne noted an old fence that had fallen over along the road side of the lot and we decided that would be the base for a Hugelbed.  Hugelkultur uses wood, compost, soil, and vegetation to create a mound into which you can grow.  The wood retains water meaning there is little need for watering once the Hugelbed is established.  For Anne, this should also create some barriers to foot traffic at the road side of the property.

We attacked the pile of tree remains that had accumulated and created a habitat for birds and such by piling it at the back end of the property.  Dan also cut back some box elder to open up the fruit trees in the orchard area.  Noreen had a mission of getting the fallen roof structure out and WOW did she ever succeed!  She was REALLY sore after all that sledge hammer swinging!

AD 9-18

For a bunch of old folks working for a day and a half, we were happy with a job well done. A video of the progress we made is posted at Harn Theory.  And good thing we did all we did as the new trailer arrived less than a week later!!  It needs much work but it’s here and we can begin the cleaning, repairing, and decorating so Anne has a lovely home before winter.  Lots more to do and we are grateful for anyone who has a heart to help.  You can follow the progress at Operation Crone Corner.

 

 

 

Feels Like a Win

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The MN Public Utilities Commission met on Tuesday, September 11th, Patriot Day, to discuss Enbridge’s compliance filing to the conditions of the Certificate of Need for their proposed Line 3.  And there were Patriots for the Land present in full force.  Many wore cloth signs pinned to their backs.

PUC Signs

As the proceedings began, these Patriots turned their backs to the PUC Commissioners to display their messages signifying that they felt the PUC had turned their backs on the Public in deciding unanimously that there was a Need for Line 3.  My favorite was probably “Public Utility Cowards” indicating the Commissioners are people who lack the courage to do or endure dangerous or unpleasant things.

I would have to agree. The Commissioners did turn their backs on the Public, opting instead to grant a foreign Utility company access to push Tar Sands sludge, and all its poisonous constituents, through the clean land and pristine waters of Minnesota’s North Woods and Lake Country.  I decided I would write letters to all five of these Commissioners to let them know of my disappointment.  Here’s some of what I told them.

  • You are responsible to the PUBLIC.  More than 90% of the letters have been in opposition, surely nearly 100% of the volume of input, as many of the pro-pipeline comments were simple pre-printed postcards and very little of anything written to the PUC from that side had any scientific or technically sound detail, much of it being simple aping of the Enbridge hyperbole. Yet, you continued to question those in opposition much more critically.  All the while, taking Enbridge at their word, assuming they were being honest and forthright.
  • I’m sure Ms. Brusven and Mr. Swanson (Enbridge representatives) are very nice people and believe what they say to the PUC.  But, as Upton Sinclair once wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”  The company they represent did all it could to minimize and delay the cleanup in Michigan and has not done enough to maintain their Line 3 pipeline to the point that now, it’s a horrible mess.  Enbridge has one of the worst records for safety in the industry.  Yet, you have unanimously granted them a Certificate of Need.
  • You are supposed to be an intelligent group of individuals.  [A requirement of being appointed is that a Commissioner must be “learned in the law, engineering, public accounting, property and utility valuation, finance, physical or natural sciences, production agriculture or natural resources”.  I would expect a scientific, discerning approach, especially from Matt Schuerger, the sole engineer on the PUC.]  Yet, as one attorney noted, it was surreal for you to accept the premise that Enbridge can build a perfect new pipeline but when they tell us they can run the current Line 3 safely, you don’t believe them. You (specifically Commissioner Dan Lipschultz) talked about Enbridge holding a gun to your head.  THERE IS NO GUN!  If Line 3 is SUCH a hazard, then it is Enbridge’s responsibility to SHUT IT DOWN.  They have said they will run it if they do not get the new Line 3.  If it is so prone to leaking that it is hazardous to continue operations, it is THEIR responsibility to assure they stop using it before a catastrophic spill, Not Yours.
  • Commissioner Lange said she asked herself how she would feel if she woke up in 5 years and had voted “no” and there was a leak.  What she didn’t ask herself was how she’d feel when there is a spill in 6 months, before anything was done to shut down or replace Line 3.  Nor did she ask how she’d feel if her daughter miscarried her grandchild because of benzene exposure directly related to an oil spill.  As she won’t likely be living near the Rez where so much of this pipeline runs, perhaps there is no validity for such a concern.  The June 28th decision will result in more deaths for us and our Indigenous friends and neighbors.  The cancer rates in this area are abnormally high already.
  • The way the Youth Climate Intervenors were patronized was appalling. The body language and condescending tone should have been my first clue the Public Utility Commissioners were predisposed to Enbridge, not the Intervening Parties.  It disgusted me to see the PUC dismiss them without shame… these kids who are working just as hard as any of the other legal teams, all while not getting paid.  They are literally fighting for their lives… for a planet that will be for them, at least what we have today.  A watershed that isn’t poisoned with Tar Sands.
  • Science has made clear that 80% of the remaining fossil fuels MUST remain in the ground if we are to avoid massive climate change that will render our planet unlivable.  In addition, ALL Tar Sands oil must remain in the ground, not only because it has only a 3:1 return of energy (at best) but because when it burns, the result is so much more devastating than burning regular crude.  By failing to prevent this Tar Sands pipeline, the Commissioners are directly dooming the people of Minnesota to extinction, likely before our grandchildren’s grandchildren are able to decide if they want to bring another generation into whatever world remains. It’s hard to comprehend you could make this decision while a group of Youth Climate Intervenors, young people who will be most affected by these decisions, sits in each hearing, each meeting regarding the Line 3 proceedings.
  • You also decided to eliminate RA-03 from consideration, a slap in the face to the Indigenous.  Especially after it was clearly the route they all preferred, as you clarified with multiple rounds of tantalizing questioning.  You asked them to choose a route in an idealized unreality where the pipeline would never leak. And then you ignored RA-03 as a possibility after they unanimously preferred it.
  • Each Commissioner should be asking how he will feel when Enbridge’s New Line 3 fails catastrophically in 2026 (or sooner) and spills 210,000 barrels, like the new pipeline in South Dakota did last November.  Will you feel then like you protected the people of Minnesota?
  • How will you feel as you watch on the evening news as Minnesota Law Enforcement, financed by Enbridge, throw Minnesotans to the ground as they protest this pipeline in accordance with a higher law than man’s law… because they see their duty to protect our water and our planet?  How will you feel when they spray our citizens with water in below freezing temperatures? Or when they face us with dogs and automatic weapons?  How will you feel when people are injured or killed in these police actions that the PUC itself assured would be covered by Enbridge funding?  Does it make it OK if the Canadian company pays for the police instead of the Minnesota taxpayers? Or if Enbridge’s private security forces are the ones perpetrating these actions, as long as the contractor is licensed in the state of Minnesota, of course?
  • While Commissioner Tuma put on a good show of being concerned about those voicing their first amendment rights, his question about whether Enbridge would financially support the requirements for law enforcement at the construction sites sounded more to me like Winona LaDuke has phrased it: “Will you finance the brutalization of Minnesotans in order to get your pipeline in, Enbridge?”
  • In addition, his linking of a sex/drug trafficking fund with the fund to deal with on-site situations leaves me fearing that there will be nothing for the former and all spent on the latter.  At present, I see no evidence in the record that there will be anything that will prevent the Applicant from doing exactly what they did at Standing Rock with their collaborators Energy Transfer Partners.

In conclusion, I let them know: Perhaps you can justify your decision as being outside your job description, but I will be fighting this Line 3.  I will fight for our children, our grandchildren, our water, our plants, our animals, our planet, our future.  I will even be fighting for you.  I just wish you would have done more to help me in this fight.

Please write to Governor Dayton at 75 Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. #130 in St Paul, MN 55155  or call 651-201-3400 to let him know you do NOT support Line 3.  We need every citizen if we expect to stop this foreign company from poisoning our water.

Next Steps in the Line 3 Fight

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These past weeks, there has been much communication to the MN Public Utilities Commission on the eDocket regarding the Enbridge Line 3 proposed Tar Sands pipeline, nearly all of it in opposition to the approval of Line 3.  There was also good coverage on Democracy Now! where Winona LaDuke summarized the issue about as completely and concisely as I’ve ever heard.  Her interview, in large part specific to Line 3, starts at the 51:40 mark.  But Honor The Earth and other Environmental groups are not the only ones opposing Line 3 and appealing the PUC’s June decision on Line 3.

The Citizens Acting for Rail Safety opposes the approval of a certificate of need for the Enbridge Energy Line 3 replacement project. [6-22-18]

Citizens Acting for Rail Safety opposes new oil pipelines because:
·  More pipelines will not stop the movement of oil by rail. Rail and pipelines are not interchangeable and play different roles in our energy infrastructure networks. Shippers and refineries will continue to take advantage of the speed and flexibility that freight rail transport offers over pipelines.
·  Expanding oil transportation infrastructure dilutes limited safety resources. Presently, there are not enough independent inspectors to ensure the safety of existing rails, tankers and pipelines. Rather than building new structures, current limited resources should focus on reducing risk to communities from the existing rail and pipeline infrastructure. Pitting oil trains against pipelines is a false choice that may distract communities from pursuing efforts to improve rail safety through
common-sense regulation, while absolving oil and rail industries and regulators of their responsibility for rail safety.
·  Expanding oil transportation infrastructure increases risk to more communities. Pipelines and oil by rail are both dangerous to the communities they impact. Rail may be more likely to spill, but pipeline ruptures are typically larger and more expensive to clean up. Residents, local governments, water resources and the environment are all threatened — starting at the well heads and all along the rail
and pipeline routes, through our prairies, wetlands, watersheds, agricultural lands, native lands, cities, towns, and industrial areas, across our rivers and streams, all the way to the destination refineries and port facilities.
·  Building additional oil infrastructure that will soon be obsolete is short sighted. The United States has a record-breaking glut of crude oil in storage because more is currently extracted than is being used worldwide. Demand for oil is unlikely to reach levels equal to supply as our society transitions to a cleaner economy run on safer and more affordable renewable energy. Many communities across the
country are already successfully resisting efforts to expand oil processing and export facilities served by either pipelines or oil trains.

On 7-20-18, the Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources issued a letter regarding the PUC’s requirement that Enbridge establish a decommissioning trust fund (an important protection for Minnesotans and the State of Minnesota, and, as such, in the public interest) as a condition of obtaining a certificate of need.  In this letter, the DOC-DER established the many issues with the proposal Enbridge submitted on 7-16-18 and stating:

DOC DER recommends that the Commission not approve the Enbridge July 16
compliance filing as it relates to the decommissioning trust fund condition and order Enbridge to propose a revised decommissioning trust fund proposal that:
•  Is consistent with, and requires no changes to, existing Minnesota and federal law;
•  Includes collections over the expected 50-year life of Line 3 project in Minnesota at least to equal approximately $1.5 billion (USD), as adjusted for inflation;
•  Is not controlled by Enbridge Inc. or any present or future affiliated entity;
•  Is established only for the purpose of deactivating, monitoring, and removing the
pipeline together with remediation of the soil at the time Line 3 is taken out of service in Minnesota; and
•  Includes other provisions as required by the Commission.

And the MN Pollution Control Agency (PCA) is doing their best to assure proper legal proceedings and accountability with their 7-30-18 comments to the PUC:

PCA Response to Enbridge Landowner Choice program 7-30-18A

PCA Response to Enbridge Landowner Choice program 7-30-18B

The Department of Commerce appears to be working hard to prevent Enbridge from building a dirty Tar Sands pipeline through the pristine waters of Northern Minnesota.  The 8-31-18 supplemental filing by the Department of Commerce read as follows:

INTRODUCTION

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (Commission) issued an oral decision on June 28, 2018 granting a Certificate of Need (CN) for the proposed Line 3 Replacement Project (Project). The Commission granted the CN contingent upon Commission review and approval of several modifications or conditions. It is the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s (Department) understanding that, but for the required modifications or conditions, the Commission determined that the record would not support a finding that granting the CN would be more favorable to the public interest than the consequences of denying the CN. In a Notice issued by the Commission on July 11, 2018, the Commission directed the applicant, Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership (Enbridge or the Company) to submit compliance filings on five mandatory CN conditions. In its July 11, 2018 Notice, the Commission also requested the Department make recommendations on whether the Commission should approve or modify the Company’s compliance filings.

In its August 10, 2018 supplemental recommendations, the Department concluded that the Company’s current general liability (GL) insurance coverage applicable to the Enbridge U.S. Mainline System, includes significant exclusions for insurance coverage related to damages caused by a crude oil spill. Further, the Department recommended that the Commission not approve the compliance filing to the extent that Enbridge intends to rely on its current policy language to cover the Project because Enbridge’s current policies do not adequately protect the public interest.

ENBRIDGE’S CURRENT INSURANCE COVERAGE IS DEFICIENT

As summarized in its August 10 filing, the Department concluded that the GL insurance policies of Enbridge and Enbridge Inc. applicable to the Enbridge U.S. Mainline system and, potentially, a new Line 3,1 are deficient because the coverage terms contain significant exclusions related to damages caused by crude oil spills.2 [TRADE SECRET HAS BEEN EXCISED]. In the Department’s assessment, the policies do not cover damages from crude oil spills to any significant degree, if at all.

MOST OF THE REST OF THIS SECTION IS [TRADE SECRET HAS BEEN EXCISED] – so much so that it’s not really intelligible so the public is largely in the dark on the details of why their coverage is deficient.  We can only go by what the DOC has given us in the Introduction and Conclusion, which is pretty damning…

CONCLUSION

Enbridge has provided its currently-applicable GL insurance policies in response to Department information requests related to Enbridge’s compliance filing regarding a condition for a CN for the Project. It is Enbridge’s burden – not the Department’s – to demonstrate that the terms of its GL insurance policies will provide coverage consistent with the Commission’s order. This supplemental filing was submitted in response to an information request seeking the underlying analysis of the Department’s August 10 recommendations. Consistent with its filings on July 30 and August 10, 2018, the Department continues to conclude that Enbridge Inc.’s current GL insurance coverage applicable to the Enbridge U.S. Mainline System and, potentially, a new Line 3, include significant exclusions for insurance coverage related to damages caused by a crude oil spill. Enbridge’s current policies with the exclusions and other limiting language will not comply with the terms and conditions in the Department’s insurance recommendations. Therefore, the Department continues to recommend that the Commission not approve the Company’s compliance filings related to the insurance condition.

But I’m not sure what Fond du Lac Band is thinking with their action. The Fond du Lac/Enbridge announcement looked like this:

I think Elizabeth Oppenheimer sums up the offer to the Indigenous accurately in her letter to the DOC urging the PUC to move to investments in renewables:

Oppenheimer Letter1

Oppenheimer Letter2

On September 11th, the PUC will address:

What action should the Commission take concerning the certificate of need
modifications compliance filing filed by Enbridge on July 16, 2018, in accordance with
the Commission’s forthcoming Order? (PUC: Ek, Bahn)

What does this mean?

  • The September 11, 2018 Commission Agenda will focus on the modifications to the certificate of need as ordered by the Commission. Specifically, whether Enbridge’s July 16 Compliance Filing on the certificate of need modifications provided the type of additional detail the Commission requested.
  • The Commission has not yet issued its order concerning its decision on the certificate of need for the Line 3 Replacement project.
  • The Commission’s September 11 Agenda meeting will be webcast. You can watch here.
I’m feeling up and down on this issue.  I keep hoping that the Commissioners will pull their heads from their butts and see through Enbridge’s BS, but I fear that their decision is already bought and paid for and there is nothing much We the People can do to change it.  Hence, we need to keep calling Governor Dayton.  We need him to do all he can to STOP LINE 3 NOW.
As I indicated, there were many public comments, almost all in opposition to Line 3.  This may be my favorite letter I saw and I hope the PUC Commissioners are considering it:
PUC commissioners:
I’m a 65-year old retired white guy. Hardly the stereotypical radical environmentalist.
I’ve hunted, fished, hiked, and boated across this great state for 40 years. I feel like you’ve betrayed my trust when you voted to allow a foreign corporation to make more profit at the risk of jeopardizing the natural resource that define our state.
I didn’t think greed, money, and corporate interests always won out over public welfare.
Maybe in Texas, but I thought Minnesota was different. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe I should have joined the ranks of those environmental “radicals” a long time ago.
As I interpret your decision, you chose to risk “pristine” parts of the state to protect the existing pipeline corridor. Someone will have to help me understand the logic of this decision.
I wish you would realize a consequence to your actions. I wish you could be forced to wade in — bathe in? — the first oil spill to gain a better appreciation for what you’ve done. It’s just a matter of time.
But seriously, how do you sleep at night?
Mike Prouty
And this may be my favorite excerpt from a letter:
In short, Fuck all of you that voted for this, you have wasted everyone’s time by this bullshit delay to act like you actually were going to hold Enbridge to a high standard and say no to business demands of the fossil fuel industry. When this industry does go belly up, the people of MN will again have to foot the bill. This agreement negotiated by the PUC is pathetic and an embarrassment and held Enbridge to a stunningly low bar for a multi-national multi-billion dollar company.
Yeah, I’m with that guy.

Pimentos, Old Stone Mini Golf, & Hamilton – Oh My!

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What an amazing weekend we had in Minneapolis!  There are always so many people to see and things to do and this weekend we had some of the best of both!

We started with a trip to Northern Sun NSfor some sign frames (we have new Water Protector signs to post) and some replacement buttons (Dan gave his “Jesus had two dads and he turned out OK” button away a while back and needed a new one).  Then we stopped for just a sec at a new community bookstore – Moon Palace Books, which had a terrific layout of books and a delightful cafe in back.  They also had used books upstairs but we left without tempting ourselves…  Some potential new reads I found were Come of Age: The Case for Elderhood in a Time of Trouble & Die Wise, both by Stephen Jenkinson.

Then we headed to our friend Sadie’s place where we would spend the weekend with her roommate Alison.  They have an awesome place and we were greeted with an amazing Mona Lisa painting that Alison had just acquired at an estate sale.  After some relaxation, we decided to head to her favorite restaurant, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, where we were able to hook up with Uncle Cam and Aunt Karen too!  So good to catch up with them and enjoy some really great food.  We tried the One Love combo bowl which included jerk chicken, jerk pork, beans and rice, slaw, and plantains.  We didn’t even try any of their sauces as the meat was so delicious with the other sides.  Alison’s boyfriend met up with us also – we’re making friends faster than ever!!

The next day started with a drive over to Laura’s where fresh, ripe plums awaited my washing.  Since they were SO ripe, I didn’t think they’d survive until I could get to processing them at the Harn so we decided to make cordial instead – way better idea!!  Lutz advised as I filled jars with plums, sprinkled in some sugar and added the vodka.  In six weeks, we’ll be able to see how it’s tasting.  I have big plans to get the rhubarb cordial started when I get home too…  This is fun.  And beautiful!  Will make some good gifts…

Plum cordial

I grabbed a quick book from the Little Library a couple houses down as it was a 35th anniversary edition of a book I have been meaning to read for some years – it had an Appreciation in it by Maurice Sendak and I wanted to check it out.  Boy, am I glad I did as I thoroughly enjoyed his words about this book.  Must get to it soon…

Then we headed to brunch at the Tiny Diner, a Permaculture-based diner with really good food, if not spectacular service.  I don’t know if our waitress hated her job, didn’t care, or just was off her game but wow was she NOT real friendly or helpful.  She seemed to try a bit harder after I’m guessing she heard me say to Laura as she brought her a spoon, “Maybe she’s having a bad day.”  Laura had to re-request said spoon after a delivery of sugar and stir sticks.  Good thing we got it as the sugar was really clumpy and had to be removed from the decanter with a spoon instead of pouring it from the spout.

I am always amazed by bad service when it seems to me there is a simple solution. If you’re a server having a crap day, say something!  Maybe, “Hey, I’m off my game today.  Not sure what’s up but please have patience with me if I am not as cheery or well-oiled as I normally am.” or “My cat died last week and I’m still feeling a bit blue so my brain isn’t firing on all cylinders.  While I’m doing my best to make your visit a good one, please let me know if I’m dropping the ball on anything as I could use a little extra help this week.”  I believe most patrons will be happy to accommodate and might even leave a BIGGER tip to try to help out your day.  I think most of us (those of us with a bit of compassion anyway) want to help others’ lives easier if we can.  But first we need to know you’re having a hard time, not just an apathetic grouch.

Dan said the biscuits and gravy was good – had a hint of lemon – and Laura’s egg sandwich came with pickled radish that was excellent.  I had the New Mexico Omelet with cheddar and pickled peppers – so delish!  The place had a lot of info about Permaculture, including a really rad pollinator housing complex.

Next we headed to Big Stone Mini Golf which was so wonderful.  Sorry no photos yet as we forgot our camera and I’m waiting on shots from my friend.  But check out their website for some shots.  The golf course is aged and has some rough edges that hang your ball so if you’re super competitive, you may find some frustration.  We were out for a fun day of artsy golf and got just what we wanted.  We definitely got out money’s worth on a per shot basis – the scores on a fourteen-hole course ranged from 60-80.  [Why, yes, I did win!!  But I was worried when I got an 8 on the first hole!!]

After the golf, we walked the grounds checking out all the sculptures.  From the IV/Walker statement on health care and the world of high art to the Shiny Mushrooms and Beans, to the Chains in the shape of a person on a large stone slab, there was much to make you think.  Oh, there was a Pig flying an Airplane and a giant Roshambo too.  And if you like pigs, there is also a free-range pig that wanders the grounds.  He keeps the goats and chickens happy – you can feed those guys if you like.

We got uber lucky when the artist who started all this wonderfulness, Bruce Stillman, was found walking the grounds.  I thanked him for creating this place and mentioned that he should let us know when he starts giving tours of the houses (there is a tiny house, a large home, and a studio).  Lucky for us, when Laura mentioned the studio tour, he gave us one!  We got to see his latest work along with some of his early things that he houses in the upstairs area of the place, including HIS Mona Lisa.  I was uber impressed with his latest concept of “Justice” and I’m hopeful to get a shot to add to this blog soon.

After golf, we headed to the city to meet up with a bunch of folks for an evening on the deck at Psycho Suzy’s.  I think I went through about 5 or 6 glasses of water as we talked and talked and ate good food.  We got to see the giant spider that comes out as the sun goes down and we saw bats flying around as it got even later.  What a lovely time with friends new and old.  Try the Thai Pizza – it’s really good.

Then it was back to the lovely old home for a good night’s rest – well, a partial one as we were up until almost 2!!  But I was up early enough in the morning to meet another house guest, Elsa, owner of Yoga One in Alexandria, who regaled us with stories from her previous evening – what a joy to meet her.  Hope to see her again when I’m back in Alex.  I had been meaning to check out that Yoga Studio…

The big event was yet to come… Hamilton!!!  Friends Sherry, Jamie, and Ann joined Dan and I for lunch at MacKenzie Pub before the show.  Totally recommend this place if you’re going to a show at the Orpheum as you can then sneak over to their bathrooms during intermission – and YES!! It’s WAY quicker than the line inside the Orpheum.  Three of us had the Caribbean Pork Tacos – GF and so full of flavor!  Sherry Ann ordered the hummus platter that had loads of kalamata olives and two kinds of bread.  Dan was disappointed to hear they were out of the Scotch Eggs but that just means he’ll have to get them next time…

So, Hamilton was just incredible.  I’ve seen large stage plays in the past, I saw musicals and operas in D.C. when Mom used to live there, but this was just beyond anything theatrical I’ve ever experienced.  There was SO MUCH going on all over the stage.  The choreography was excellent with the fast-paced and the stop-motion, the graceful and the blunt.  Every move was executed with precision and the singing was top-notch.  I cannot recommend this show enough.  I especially liked the T-shirt that said “Hamilton & Jefferson & Madison & Washington.  Burr.”  🙂

It was a wonderful experience in so many ways for me.  I will be listening to it on CD – especially Act 1 which had such a powerful effect on me.  Writing like you’re running out of time, indeed.  I just couldn’t help but see the links between what I’m trying to accomplish in fighting Line 3 and what Hamilton was doing in fighting to create a government for this newly birthed nation.

More on the Line 3 opposition next week…

 

Supporting the Indigenous in Fossil Fuel Opposition Efforts

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As some of you know, I have been struggling with writing about the Stop Line 3 effort ever since the PUC decision in late June to grant a Certificate of Need and Route Permit to Enbridge for their new Tar Sands Pipeline in Minnesota.  In the last week or two, I have been working to regain momentum and slough off the feelings of hopelessness so that I can begin again to write about this effort.

This past week I participated in a webinar hosted by Sierra Club – Sierra Forum: The Wave of Tribal-led Environmental Activism.  Three women involved in the work were present to give updates and answer questions from the community on this topic.  Tara Houska from Honor The Earth called in from Park Rapids just down the road where she is supporting a Resistance Camp in the fight against Line 3.  Also present were Sierra Club members Lena Moffitt who leads their Our Wild America campaign and Cesia Kearns from their Beyond Oil Campaign.

There was a review of a few of the many projects currently being opposed:

  • Kinder Morgan – recently bought by Canada – facing massive resistance
  • Bayou Bridge Pipeline – Energy Transfer Partners project in Louisiana
  • Bears Ears National Monument – where 85% of the previously protected land is being considered for extractive activities, basically giving away the public land to corporate interests
  • Mountain Valley – where citizens are working hard and earlier this month the “Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ordered work stopped … (after) three federal appeals judges revoked two permits for the pipeline to cross the Jefferson National Forest, ruling that the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management had not properly reviewed the project before issuing the permits.”

In these situations, infrastructure is often being placed in areas where the Indigenous community is already facing other major obstacles to living in general.  These pipelines and extractive work bring threats not only to the water and land, but also to the people, including the risks associated with Man Camps.  As you may know, Native women are 10 times more likely to be murdered compared with other races. Their rates of rape are nearly 2.5 times that of white women who already face a 1 in 5 chance of rape over their lifetime.  [It should be noted that all these numbers are fairly tentative for a number of reasons, most notably under reporting.]

“They treat Mother Earth like they treat women… They think they can own us, buy us, sell us, trade us, rent us, poison us, rape us, destroy us, use us as entertainment and kill us. I’m happy to see that we are talking about the level of violence that is occurring against Mother Earth because it equates to us [women]. What happens to her happens to us… We are the creators of life. We carry that water that creates life just as Mother Earth carries the water that maintains our life. So I’m happy to see our men standing here but remind you that when you stand for one, you must stand for the other.”  ~ Lisa Brunner, Sacred Spirits First Nations Coalition

Lena did a wonderful job of noting that many conservation efforts were born out of protecting land that was Indigenous land.  Many have learned, through failure in doing it, that there is a great need to respect the Indigenous culture and to be be honest, transparent, intelligent, diligent, and kind.  A key is working with communities from the bottom up, not coming in with pre-baked ideas of what is needed.

There was also a short review of the positive work being done by Indigenous people to WIN against Fossil Fuels as Cesia described the successes of the Lummi Nation which defeated the largest proposed coal export terminal in the nation expected to export more than 48 million tons of coal per year with 30 miles of coal trains running daily through the northwest.

Much of the discussion was focused on how you can support the efforts of the Indigenous.

  • Learn the history of your region.  Be deferential to the sovereignty of the Indigenous which entails unique authority and risks.  Listen to their asks to know what is needed.  You can find out more on how to help our effort at Stop Line 3.
  • Respect the spiritual context of the Indigenous actions. [More on this below.] There was reference to the Totem Pole Journey that I found interesting.
  • Support the work of organizations working alongside the Indigenous like the Sierra Club actions in fighting the current administration, especially Zinke opening protected lands to extractive technologies.   Bears Ears,  the first tribal nation initiated and designed monument, was recently reduced by 85%.  Comments of support are meaningful and you can help here.
  • Divest from banks, stocks, and mutual funds that are supporting the fossil fuel industry.  You can sign a petition to commit to this effort.

Once you’ve divested, you might need some safe investments, which you can find at Fossil Free Funds.  And if you need a good broker, I’ve been working with Margaret Nucci for 15 years and she’s done great for us – and made terrific strides as I’ve pushed her harder and harder to find fossil fuel free funds.  She’s a joy to work with and she’ll listen to what your goals are and help you reach them in a way that works best for you.

With respect to honoring the culture of the Indigenous, Tara did an excellent job of explaining the nature of sacred places.  She noted that some feel like “to Natives, everything is sacred” and yes, all rocks, trees, and all of life is sacred.  But sacred places are burial places, ceremonial places, places that are part of a creation story… spaces that have been used for thousands of years by Natives, places with very specific meanings and historical significance.  When we lose these spaces, they are lost to us all.

I for one am hopeful to do what I can to help support the efforts of the Indigenous. One reason I believe so strongly in this is because treaties are the highest law of the land and we have seen that these treaty rights are often the ONLY way to win.  In our system where political officials are bought and paid for by corporate owners and thus no longer represent the people and are not accountable to the public interest, the legal system can sometimes be counted on to apply the law to assure corporate interests do not take authority over what is more important to most of us: clean water, air, and land.

I encourage you to do what you can to support the efforts to defeat fossil fuels as we transition to a new future, a renewable future, a future that ensures a livable planet for our children, their grandchildren, their grandchildrens’ grandchildren, and even THEIR grandchildren.  The Indigenous believe in protecting the Earth for the next seven generations.  It will take all of us to make it happen.

What is Work?

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So recently, Dan and I met someone who is very inquisitive, like I am. 🙂  I was delighted and when she said, after asking a question about money, “That’s pretty personal, I know.” I assured her that we were open to answering anything we could for her.    I believe my exact words were, “I’d probably even tell you about how we have sex if you pressed me.”   Which, of course is perhaps the ultimate for some people and, unfortunately, brings up bad visuals… Uh, sorry about that.

Anyway, we were discussing the whole idea of retiring from the rat race and living more simply.  Of finding a way to get more freedom while avoiding poverty and homelessness.  A big part of the freedom is not working our lives away, not working for “the man” in the crazy hamster wheel of work-buy-store-get a bigger place to store more stuff-American Dream.  But don’t we need to do something to avoid poverty and homelessness?  Somehow, we need to have enough income to survive.  Scratch that.  We need to  have enough to survive. [More on this later…]

So she was pressing us on how much we work each week.  “Like is it less than 20 hours a week?”  We really struggled with answering this for a number of reasons.  One is that we don’t have a regular schedule in any sense of the word.   Most every week is a new schedule.  Some weeks we are traveling, some we are doing a lot of homebody stuff, some weeks we spend one day at the farm, some weeks, multiple days. Another reason is that we don’t have regular X-hour-a-week jobs.  We don’t have a regular schedule of “work”.  Even working at the farm is sometimes Monday, sometimes Friday, sometimes a full day, sometimes an afternoon following a trip to town.  I write for the paper occasionally – but that is very intermittent.  I believe I’ve written about a half dozen articles in the last year or so.  So it’s unsubstantial.

And when I mentioned that I spend a lot of time writing, especially with my blog, she was like, “But that’s not really work, right? That’s more about Writerpersonal development.” At the time I tried to justify the blog writing because it’s kind of like independent journalism when I’m reporting on the PUC or Line 3.  And what about regular writers?  Is the time they spend writing only work when it’s going to be included in a published work? And now that I think of it, I realize, why wouldn’t my blog writing be considered work?  Is “work” only what we do outside the realm of our self?  Or is literally almost everything we do “work”?

And that’s when I realized that a bigger part of the trouble answering the “how many hours do you work a week” question is that it’s hard to define “work”.  Much of what we do is work – laundry, cooking, cleaning, even going to the bathroom – it’s all about getting something needed completed.  But I think the feeling about the word “work” in American society is more about “what do you do for money?” or “what do you do that you don’t like to do?”.  Is “work” what we do to make ends meet?  I asked a friend recently and he said, “Work is what you have to do to make a living.”  So, I said, “Well, you have to wash laundry, cook meals, and do dishes.” And he countered with, “No you don’t.”  And, of course, he is right.  You could have other people do your laundry, only use paper plates and plastic sporks, only eat at restaurants.  But, I guess those just aren’t options I want to consider – they seem so much more expensive and wasteful anyway.

So if I think about a recent week, I spent 6 hours at the Farm, 2 hours canning raspberries, 12 hours attending a Day of Resistance where I spent probably 3-4 hours doing helpful work, and 16 hours driving to and supporting an Honor the Earth Fundraiser concert, which entailed about 8 hours of real work and a lot of networking and enjoying the music.  So maybe you could say I spent about 20 hours of “work” time.

This past week, we spent a day hosting friends here at the Harn which entailed about 3 hours of cooking and tidying, I canned 4 quarts of green beans which was another hour or so of work. I attended a Board meeting which was another couple hours in prep and attendance. We spent about 4 hours prepping wood for the woodshed and stacking some in the garage in preparation for winter heating needs.  I spent an hour or two picking choke cherries and making 6 cups of juice from them – the jelly making took another hour or two, so let’s say about 3 hours altogether.  We spent another couple hours working on finishing out the arctic entrance on the porch side – it turned out real nice – we even added a shelf!  So that’s about 15 hours.  None of this work is paid but isn’t it helping us “make a living”?

When we do work, it’s not typically for a real company or boss.  We usually are working for ourselves.  Cutting wood, putting up food.  These are work I suppose.  I think that’s the hardest part, what exactly constitutes work?

The definition online for making a living is: “To earn enough income to support oneself and, if applicable, one’s family.”  And Income is “money received, especially on a regular basis, for work or through investments.”  If choke cherries help support the family by giving sustenance, shouldn’t they be considered “income”? What about firewood gleaned from the forest?  It’s heating our home for free so we don’t have to buy electricity to heat with a heater – isn’t that an alternative to income? Shouldn’t gathering firewood be considered “making a living”? Before money systems, barter was the method of the day.  And everyone was basically making things from the resources supplied by the Earth.  Weren’t they “working”?

It seems these days that money and work are inextricably linked.  But every day people are finding ways to unlink them.  Whether through barter or local “money” systems (based on hours worked, not dollars worth of work), there are lots of ways people work outside the money system.  My hope is that these efforts continue.  In writing this blog, I happened upon an interesting idea …

F•Day = Free Day = The day when the world’s largest economy revokes the monetary market system in favour of a collaborative, technological society based in nature, community and compassion. ~Concept of The Free World Charter

Definitely going to have to read more on this…  I’ll keep you posted.  And please, you let me know your thoughts on this idea, whether via comments below, FB, email, a phone call, or even a visit.

Money gone

Photos courtesy of: http://www.thewriteratwork.com/site/archives001.asp & http://freeworldcharter.org/en

Hope Comes to the Harn

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So this weekend we finally hosted friends from Alexandria.  Dan and I are members of a group focused on Deep Listening and, while we kind of take the summer off, we decided to do a mini-meet-up for the gang here at the Harn.  It was a wonderful chance for a few new people to experience what we’re doing here and it was great for us to get some more feedback on the place.

We spent some time cleaning up the place which included a thorough sweeping and reorganizing of the porch.  We typically do this clean once in the spring, as we begin spending time on the porch, and once mid-summer to enjoy a clean porch for the fall season.  It is so grand to have everything organized again, especially since Dan has almost finished the wall in the porch to assure no Asian Beetle infestations in the arctic entrance (like we had last year).  Sherry was the one member of the group that stayed overnight and, as the most frequent lodger in the arctic entrance, we’ve named it “Sherry’s Nest”.  It’s her favorite place to stay here at the Harn, this little 7′ x 7′ “nest” in the woods.  Next time, I think she’ll bring her puppy to enjoy it with her.  We think this was her fourth stay, so she’s edging in on Sadie, our most frequent flyer.

We also worked on making a bunch of food: Amish oatmeal, rhubarb/apple crisp, roasted beets and beans, zucchini noodles, and Einkorn bread.  In fact, I’m really glad everyone was an afternoon arrival as I had decided to also cram in canning of 4 quarts of green, yellow, & purple beans from Merry Gardens Farm that morning.  Happily I was able to get most everything done before eleven.  What a busy morning!  We did get to listen in on Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me, which was highly entertaining as usual.

Guests started arriving in early afternoon with Susan and Mike arriving first – bringing fresh bread and hard cider, quickly followed by Sherry with Surly and sugar-free soda.  Lee and Reed were delayed by a turtle rescue near Itasca Park.  Said turtle was nicked by a passing driver, breaking the back end of the shell.  hope the turtleWe quickly fixed it with, of all things, duct tape, and set the turtle into the yard to explore.  We named the turtle Hope and Hope found shelter in the shade and took a little snooze.  Hours later, as we headed out for a forest walk after a fine meal pulled together with watermelon and hummus from Lee, and we found Hope had headed off to new adventures.  We anticipate seeing the turtle again as we welcome this woods becoming a new home for Hope.

As I said, these friends are from our group that practices Deep Listening and I’d suggested that if we wanted to have a session, I thought Hope would be a good topic.  Our fearless leader, Lee, had looked for a topic and found one that seemed good, though not exactly Hope.  When she went to print out the quotes and discussion questions, the book magically opened to a study guide for Welcoming Hope!  Five of us enjoyed a lively, thoughtful, and thought provoking discussion of this topic.  Here are some of the things I gleaned from it:

  • One member suggested that the seeds of hope are planted in times of strife. As I thought on this I realized that, indeed, when one is faced with “enough” of any negative situation, it does instill action with a sense of hope that things must improve.  I think about the Black Lives Matter movement and #MeToo.  These people were like, “This is enough, it’s time to stand, no matter what.” And look at the differences that are being made – slow progress, maybe, but progress nonetheless.  [I did hear that there is potential that Michael Brown’s case may be brought up for review in Ferguson and, investigating that realized that his mother is running for City Council – yahoo!  Here’s MSNBC coverage, Wesley Bell comes in about 5:35 to speak about his reasons for running and his victory.  Another win for The People!!]
  • One shared simply that hope is an attitude that, when held, makes every day more happy, even if all that is hoped may not materialize.  It is my experience that, when I am hopeful, I am happier.  Hopes being dashed is difficult.  But I believe hope held is a most critical aspect of continuing to move forward in working for a cause.
  • I commented on my current waning hope in the fight against Line 3 but was encouraged by one sharing that hope is perhaps more importantly about intention and motivation than it is about goals and outcomes.  The hope is in the process, I do see that.  I noted that, while we lost at Standing Rock in that the DAPL was built, we made huge progress in opening the eyes of many and, just this past week, a federal judge was set to rule on whether the DAPL line would need to stop pushing crude.  It seems that since the permits were issued without a proper review of the environmental impacts, the situation warrants reconsideration.  Here’s MPR’s coverage. The ruling was expected by August 10th but has been delayed until month end.  It seems some remain skeptical based on the last comment in this article.  Watching current events as those in power continue to side with corporations and rather than citizens, who can blame them?  But my realization was that, even my current work that may result in Line 3 still being built in Minnesota, is important work and I need to get back on the horse and continue to ride forward.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.   ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Brosius After 5 Years

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So this past week, Dan and I have been at the (reportedly) “#2 Family Camp in the U.S.A.”, Camp Brosius in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.  I don’t know about all that, but it’s a fun place where we have friends we’ve been seeing since 1993 and we hadn’t been there in 5 years.  That last visit was the summer Tom was a counselor at Camp Brosius.  Lots of good and bad stories from that last time.  And good and bad from this time too, though we’ll stick with the good.

We were proud to arrive first, ten minutes early and about 9 minutes before the next car arrived, carrying the Sirotas!!!  These are good family friends with Tom and Karina growing up in the same group of campers through the years.  We were happy to see them and it had been so many years that their youngest looked about as old as their middle child was last time we saw them!  I kept thinking I would call him by his brother’s name!  He did teach us later in the week about Zombie Dice, which was awesome.  His mom won the first two rounds but he finally beat her in round three.  We also played Exploding Kittens.

We also had fun with all our Annex Friends.  Scott and Vickie, Rick and Mary, John and Rosalba, Andrew and new friends too!  We completed three, yes, 3, 1000 piece puzzles!  And we read some good books, more on that later…  We even won the Euchre tournament!  Great prizes provided by Mary were shared by the top teams who split them making both teams happy campers!

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Met new friend Kathleen and while we did not prevail in the Brosius Euchre Tourney or the Cornhole Tourny, we can say we held our own in the Cornhole arena.  And we were playing young men.  We thought we didn’t have a chance but held the lead for multiple rounds!  In the end, they took us.  But we had a nice long game tossing the bags back and forth.  Also did some macrame with the craft group.

We ate a lot of great food and swam in the lake.  We saw Elkhart Lake (the village), ate at the Mexican place in Plymouth (El Sombrero) – great food and staff, and shopped at Fleet Farm – discovered Dried Peas!!  We did it all.  Dan read more than me: On Tyranny, Hiroshima, Howard Zinn Conversations on History and Politics, and A Nation of Immigrants by Kennedy – all currently relevant.  He’d read this last one in 7th grade and it’s eerily relevant.  I read the first and half of the third books above.  I was too busy puzzling for much more reading than that.  But I was impressed with the On Tyranny so watch for a Book Review on that next week.

It was a good week of relaxing, not worrying about anything but chatting, enjoying the breeze, and eating with friends and family.  Even took a nap one afternoon.  It was lovely and we are grateful to Aunty Reetz for providing such a wonderful opportunity.

Next year, maybe we’ll get Tom there…