This past week has been another busy one with a Pipeline Walk, some Public Singing, a Visit to Cass Lake, our first “Writer” at the Harn, a Trip to Alex for U-Group, and more progress at the Harn.
The Pipeline Walk was an event sponsored by Honor the Earth (http://www.honorearth.org/) to give people an exposure to how close the pipelines are in our area. Cass Lake has multiple pipelines through it and we began the walk at the Rest Stop on U.S. 2.
The day began with Annie Humphrey making a Spirit Plate to begin our lunch. Anne Dunn offered up the plate and also a song, which she asked me to help her sing for the folks. This was a transformative experience for me as I am NOT a public singer. But how could I leave Anne to do it alone? She had asked me to come up with her as I’d been a part of the group from Mallard Island that developed the song last year. I didn’t think fast enough to realize that her granddaughter Cedar, also at that retreat, could have joined us as well. So here I was… my first singing engagement. It worked out fine as no one threw anything. I have to think that maybe the reaction from the group was the same as my reaction when someone sings as a leader. Namely, “Wow, that is pretty brave of her to get up and sing in front of everyone.” And they must have thought me extra brave as I’m not a good singer!! Dan says I did OK and it was good that the song was simple so people could jump in right away. We got through it and then Anne said, “OK, now we know it, let’s sing it for real.” WHAT?!?!? And then she also walked away! So here I am at the front on my own trying to lead this song. Well it must have been a good experience cause when Sadie asked me to sing the song for her the next evening, I did. It is a really nice song thanks to Patty Kakac.
Marty Cobenais, long-time and successful pipeline resistor, showed us the pipelines running under Cass Lake (1 & 2) which have been there since 1950. Spent some time watching Sarah Littleredfeather documenting the event on livestream for Honor the Earth. Here’s her video on this portion of the day: https://www.facebook.com/WinonaLaDukeHonorTheEarth/?ref=br_rs At about 2 minutes in, Marty talks about the lines running under the lake. We discussed how, if there was a leak on the decades old lines, the lake would be poisoned with the chemicals used to make the sticky stuff flow through the pipelines. Benzene, Toluene, 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene… nothing you’d want in your water.
We then walked across the road to where three lines ran on the opposite side (67, 4 & 3). 12.5 minutes into the above video, Marty talks about Enbridge providing the parking lot for the public and then the shutdown processes in case of a leak. At 15 minutes in, he talks about Enbridge’s recycling program. And then he discusses the thousands of integrity digs awaiting Enbridge attention (like 6000). While at this stop, Dan happened to notice a white truck so he went down to investigate. Dan wandered down and the driver got out of the truck. After noting the chevrons on Dan’s jean jacket, he asked if he was in the Marines and they started a brief conversation. He was wearing a private security uniform. He was watching the group of Water Walkers… for Enbridge (more on how we know that later).
The group headed back across the street to the Rest Area, and from there, to an area across the lake where the pipeline was exposed, even though they are supposed to be buried three feet deep (four feet in agricultural land to prevent the farmer from plowing into them). Dan stayed back at the Rest Area with Anne and Cedar and a few others who didn’t want to make the hike. This hike was about ¾ mile back through the woods and into a swampy area where the lines are above ground and you can walk on them. I didn’t opt for a photo, instead watching others walk the line well into the wetlands. Some examined the exposed pipe and found the protective rubber coating to be spalling, exposing the pipe surface to the elements. https://www.facebook.com/WinonaLaDukeHonorTheEarth/photos/p.1300132750107171/1300132750107171/?type=3&theater Here’s Sarah’s video for segment 2 of the day: https://www.facebook.com/WinonaLaDukeHonorTheEarth/?ref=br_rs – we reached the site about 18 minutes into the video and you can see the deterioration of the pipeline.
It was a long walk and I enjoyed the conversation with other Water Protectors. We were gone for quite some time and I worried if Dan was keeping occupied. Well, he was as I found out later. While we were at the hike, the Enbridge guard, paid time-and-a-half that day to watch the Water Protectors, had gone back to the Rest Area. Turns out, when we all headed out to the hike, he thought we’d be going to the Superfund site (our last stop of the day) where they planned to intercept the group with law enforcement. So as we headed East, he headed in the opposite direction. After realizing he’d lost us, he went back to the Rest Area where Dan was hanging out waiting for my return. They had a longer conversation this time. Unfortunately Dan could offer no information to him on “where’d they go?” The amazing part is that he headed out of the Rest Area moments before we arrived back to take a break and then head to our final stop! From the below video, it looks like there was almost a half hour before law enforcement was called to intercept these dangerous citizens.
This video is from the last stop which is a Superfund site near Norway Beach. https://www.facebook.com/WinonaLaDukeHonorTheEarth/?ref=br_rs At about 7 minutes, Marty gives an explanation of the 2010 spill near Deer River. At 9.5 minutes, he mentions the spill nearby whose size is still unknown though 200 cubic yards of waste have been removed thus far. Spill levels are self-reported so there was some speculation on how accurate they are. I know in previous jobs I’ve had, we worked hard to minimize the negative information getting to our customers. I’ve heard dozens of stories of people being paid to lie for their companies and I’d imagine Enbridge is no different. At 12 minutes, Marty discusses the Mayflower, Arkansas line which was de-commissioned and then re-used. At 17 minutes in, there is a discussion on what we can do. At 22 minutes, it’s noted that they are standing on a leak – it’s underground and not visible but it’s there. There was a law enforcement interception at this final stop which I missed as we had another appointment in Cass Lake. But my friend Joshua filmed it here: https://www.facebook.com/JoshuaHWatkins?ref=br_rs (best portion is 1:20-3 minutes, and one great ending at 5:25 where Joshua states the obvious to the oblivious officers). At 1:20, Annie tries to address the Sheriff. At 2:30, the Sheriff addresses the group and tells them, “The Railroad has called and asked that you please leave.” REALLY??? The Railroad has some kind of camera on their “right-of-way” and monitors it and then calls the Sheriff to ask people to leave the right-of-way?? Has this EVER happened to you? I call BULLSHIT. Probably a good thing I wasn’t there. I might have been arrested for being belligerent.
Meanwhile, Dan and I were visiting Milt and Jamie Lee, a couple that does the radio show Call of the Wild (LINK) for KAXE/KBXE. They’d interviewed us for the Harn Edition of the show and having learned of their strawbale homestead, we had to go and see it. What a treat! They have been developing their place about as long as we have ours and it was fun to compare stories on the development process. Jamie is also a local writer and I’d had a workshop with her at Farm by the Lake where I received her book. Well, I finally took time to open it this week and I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in one sitting and it has become the third book to make my Top Five Favorite books. It is a lovely, spiritual, story and the way it came about is pretty magical as well. I highly recommend you to read Washaka the Bear Dreamer: A Lakota Story Based On Leon Hale’s Dream https://www.amazon.com/Washaka-Bear-Dreamer-Lakota-Story/dp/0972900241
Having met up with Sadie at the Pipeline Walk – she’s working on a thesis related to pipelines – we headed home to the Harn with her after a lovely dinner with the Lees. Milt is an awesome cook! Sadie ended up staying a couple nights and while we had loads of good conversation, she also was able to complete some writing. I realized she could be the seed of the Writer’s Retreat I dream of one day opening. 🙂 Had a lovely time with a bonfire at the full moon.
Once we had our guest on her way, we were back to real work. We had started clearing the deadwood from the woods surrounding the Harn proper and were able to resume this work. We pulled small trees, large branches, and sticks it into clear areas, and now have a load of wood to process in a place where we can do so without major tick troubles. So far, things are pretty quiet on the tick front but they’re coming…
We received our plants from Edible Acres (http://www.edibleacres.org/) this week and began planting our orchard with nut tree guilds. What are guilds? In Permaculture, a guild is a grouping a plants, trees, animals, insects, and other components that work together to help ensure their health and productivity. There’s a quick overview here: http://www.neverendingfood.org/b-what-is-permaculture/permaculture-guilds/ We still have to get the grass covered but we have hazelnut trees, bee balm, black current, and onions planted thus far. Thanks go to Connie for our bee balm and black currents as we spent a morning splitting plants at her place for the upcoming plant sale and headed home with a truck full of beauties: Asters, Purple and Yellow Coneflowers, Bee Balm, Curly Chives, Day Lily, Oxeye Daisy, Sweet William, Rudbeckia, Perennial Onions, and Mullein. So we have spent several days planting. We did:
- 5 hazelnut trees (3 in the Orchard clearing and 2 at the Greenhouse clearing)
- 9 walking onions (some with the hazelnuts and others near the house)
- 9 holes with coneflowers (purple & yellow) Along the wetland at drive curve by Big Rock
- 7 day yellow-orange/rust lilies (divided from one large clump) at front entrance by Big Rock
- Couple dozen perennial onions (near hazels and near house)
- 3 black currants (near hazels)
- 6 holes with bee balm (near hazels)
- 7 holes with asters (at turn north in the drive)
- 4 raspberries (in the zone 2 woods)
- 3 black caps (in the orchard clearing)
- 3 sun chokes (on the garden hugelbed)
- Two plots of rhubarb (heirloom no less – one full sun and one on hugelbed in garden)
- A bunch of curly chives (in hugelbed)
I am amazed at the fun we’re having and the progress we’re making. I can’t believe we got the Hugelbed done and planted in a single afternoon!! As I wrote to several people in thank you cards and notes this week, it really seems that the Universe is bringing messages, almost faster than we can read them, that this is a true and good path for Dan and me.