This Earth Day is a bit bittersweet as we face an ever-present danger of losing our planet due to global inaction on the climate crisis but as we see increasing numbers of people recognizing the issue and acknowledging the science. Globally, millions are marching, writing legislators, or even turning valves to work to stop the growing crisis. For these I am grateful. Yet the misleading smear campaign of the fossil fuel industry continues.
This made me think about what I have been doing for our Earth and perhaps more crucial, to plan for personally succeeding in this changing world. Most recently, Dan and I helped a team prepare the high tunnel we began building last year (which was quickly interrupted by a snowfall one month earlier than last fall) at Merry Gardens Farm. We pulled posts up that were too low, pounded posts in that were too high, put in the posts and beam on the north end that will frame the doorway, put in the posts on the south end, and got everything level. This week will bring the framing work around the perimeter and the top truss framing, and THEN we can cover it and fill it with food plants. I am excited about this project because with changing and more erratic weather, this high tunnel will give us better control over temperature, moisture and pests. I fear that the future gardens will all be housed in this kind of framework. For a good fictional dystopian novel on these ideas, I recommend Michael Perry’s The Scavengers.
While I missed Water Action Day this year, I have continued my work for MN350 with pipeline resistance by helping with an article for Make MN magazine and I look forward to seeing the final piece, my first magazine work. Following our 2019 Goals work, I created a tracking sheet for the work being done by the organization which I believe will help track our progress and hopefully keep us motivated and on target. As of today, I have 380 hours in for MN350 in 2019. It feels good to be part of a team so dedicated to climate justice. After fighting the pipeline on my own since 2014, I feel much better informed and engaged with the work. If you would like to donate to support me in this very important work, please do so by clicking here.
I continue to write LTEs, most recently on EV (electric vehicle) charging station installation in Greater MN and the Bagley Town Hall last week – that should appear in this week’s Farmers Independent. (It will be on the blog soon.) Little did I know I was sitting right next to the Editor of the paper at that meeting! I’ve been writing for him for a few years now but haven’t really ever talked with him face-to-face. I have put on the To Do list: Meet with Tom Burford! He is really good to me in that he pretty much publishes everything I send, even though I believe he is in disagreement with most everything I write! 🙂
We have not done much around the homestead yet as the water continues to linger. We still even have a bit of snow in the forest though most has melted with a heavy rain early the other morning. I am hopeful that Dan will be hauling some poop from the neighbors horse fields to nourish our garden beds while I am gone next week at Rec Lab. I was able to dump the one poop bucket I had from the other neighbor’s cows on the rhubarb closest to the Harn, always the first bed to be ready – well, if you don’t include the tomato and grape area on the south side of the garage just outside the front door. While this location doesn’t get quite as much sun, it still has a nice microclimate. The grapes already appear to be growing! And, as this is just outside the door, it has gotten plenty of nitrogen and phos over the last winter.
So next week I take a much needed break from all the activism and focus solely (I hope!) on crafting. The 2019 Northland Recreation Laboratory brings together people from all over the region to learn and share skills. This will be (I think) our 85th year and my last year on the Board, for which I am very grateful. It has been a rich experience but not a painless one. But, no pain, no gain, eh? I have really grown a lot through my work but it’s been a struggle for much of it. It will be nice to simply enjoy lab this year as my responsibility is only to assure the setting up and execution of the Art Show at the end of the week. That is one of my favorite parts, seeing everyone’s amazing creativity and celebrating the “failures” that turn out pretty good anyway. The beauty and skill we see is truly remarkable.
The people are what really make Rec Lab special. This year we will be missing one of the people I loved most – Roxanne Weeks. I will head to the Cities from Camp Wapogasset Thursday to pick up Dorothy as Roxanne was her usual ride. It will be a fun trip though also bittersweet. It is never easy losing a friend and especially not when that person has been such an amazing example and support to you. I will carry her spirit with me this week as I navigate the tough spots. I will try to remember that she, as always, has my back.
I have been doing a lot of reading of late. Not books, mind you, but screens. The internet is the new library and we’re all writers. You think that Facebook post you made of your silly dog was just an update to your grandkids but indeed, depending on your settings, it could be the post that brings a needed smile for a lonely dog lover who just lost his sole companion. We really never realize the extent of our deeds and I am here today to cheer on humble writers of that seemingly small tool of democracy, the Letter to the Editor.
Lowell Shellack of Park Rapids, MN gets credit for instigating this blog as his recent piece on Enbridge’s 99.999% safe record was exactly what I needed to see as this ridiculous number, posted in ad after ad in Minnesota papers, frustrates me and attempts to delude readers.
Lowell has a history of revealing to the public that which has not been clearly and fully presented by the local press on their own. In his LTE from 2017, he exposed three major Enbridge pipeline spills in Minnesota as shown below.
August 1979, west of Bemidji: 449,000 gallons oil spilled, a quarter of the oil oozed through sandy soil into a wetland and water table. It has never been cleaned up entirely and is the subject of an ongoing study to see how petroleum products break down naturally.
March 1991, near Grand Rapids: A state record 1.7 million gallons spilled when Enbridge employees misinterpreted alarms and did not respond immediately. A similar mistake happened almost two decades later in 2010, at Marshall, Mich., when almost a million gallons of tar sands spilled into the Kalamazoo River. The river was shut down for two years and the river still isn’t completely cleaned up.
July, 2002, near Cohasset: 252,000 gallons of crude oil spilled when the pipeline ruptured as a result of pipeline fatigue developed while shipping the pipe. It took a controlled burn sending black smoke over a mile high to dispose of some of the oil.
This is the kind of thoughtful and well-written journalism we hunger for as mainstream media becomes more and more of a sound-byte propaganda machine for government and corporate interests. Where is the news coverage that looks like this kind of debunkery? Where are the articles that truly reveal the nature of this pipeline project? Where are the voices of the non-human entities? Hell, where are the voices of everyday citizens who oppose Line 3? Mostly in LTEs and Op-Eds. The only time we hear these voices in the mainstream news seems to be when they become so loud in utter frustration to bring change that we see people marching in the streets.
Big corporations like Enbridge have plenty of money to buy ads but more importantly, influence.
Locally, I refuse to give money to the KAXE/KBXE public radio stations because they air misleading Enbridge ads. On the surface, this seems like a freedom of enterprise issue, yes? I mean, Enbridge pays them for the ad time just like any local business. What’s the problem? Well, the problem is that this ad revenue seems to have brought with it an associated willingness to look the other way with regard to their big pipeline project which runs directly through the KAXE/KBXE listening area. What kind of coverage is the station giving to those in opposition to Line 3? Not much. Even with the local trial ongoing regarding 4 Necessity Valve Turners.
Even their coverage of what was a horrible night for Enbridge seems to press as much as it can of the positive by focusing on pro-Enbridge views. The reporter, Scott Hall, spoke with the Enbridge representative, a landowner on the pipeline, and three Enbridge construction workers giving feedback from each of these conversations. But while he mentions speaking with a “dozen or more” in opposition to Line 3, there is not a single quote or summarized comment from any of the tribal members present or the non-natives working to prevent Line 3 construction. The voice of the opposition was barely represented in the KAXE/KBXE reporting, consisting of basically the question Winona LaDuke asked.
Someone asked for quiet and the leader of Honor the Earth, Winona LaDuke from White Earth, asked the Enbridge staff if the company was going to use the same tactics against pipeline protesters in MN as were used recently by law enforcement in North Dakota. At one point she asked “are you going to bring tanks here?”
The extent of Scott Hall’s coverage for the voice of Line 3 opposition.
We’ve made it clear via phone conversations and survey responses with KAXE/KBXE that we will not support their efforts until they refuse to take Enbridge money. It seems they are doubling down with Enbridge though, recently having them as a sponsor for a major community event.
Because I so appreciate those who write in to the paper, I called and left a message for my new friend Lowell. He returned my call the next day and we chatted about our beautiful region and our dedication to the work we hope will result in saving this place from the destruction of the fossil fuel industry. I encourage you to not only reach out to those who do write with thanks but to take a shot yourself at sharing your own views, ideas, concerns, and hopes. You never know who you might be helping.
Another area where I believe we are losing ground is in our televised satire. I love the coverage given to the inside story by our satirists but I truly wish the American public were mature enough to digest this information without all the distracting name-calling and ridiculous humor. How about we simply talk about the facts which, if really understood, would astonish most citizens? Our government spying on everyone should be front page news until it stops. Unfortunately, our mainstream media is owned by corporations who work in cahoots with the government to continue the capitalistic profits, regardless of the effect to the environment or the very citizens the government is meant to serve and corporations claim to benefit. Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Sam Bee, and even more mainstream Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers all use silliness while discussing subjects that would be terrifying if we could only see the full truth. This Assange case could mean the end of a free press, though it may only be a short step from the bound press we already have.
Is this video worth investing a whole hour? Yes. And I will admit that I have watched it twice in about 3 hours. These were Dan’s third and fourth viewings. It’s really full of information but very accessible and fun to hear.
I absolutely LOVE David Suzuki. What an amazing person.
Please get back to me if you have feedback on how we can expand exposure to this information.
I was really impressed with Brittney Cooper’s writing. And it’s not just because she reminded me so much of me… but that helped me enjoy the story. She has a way with articulating her ideas with storytelling and clear statements, often easing into Black girl talk – I think she might have referred to it as Hip Hop talk. She really gave insight to Black experience and cultural ways of communicating that I found very powerful. One of my favorite statements in the book was, “When Black girls get in formation, the nation should follow.” Here, here. And, in case you missed it recently, Brittney did a Ted Talk.
Anyway, here’s some of what I gleaned from this wonderful work.
In her chapter The Smartest Man I Never Knew, she says:
Our nation’s story is one of men using violence – against Native folks, against Black folks, and against women – to build and fund a grand “experiment in democracy.” ~p. 69
I love her idea of the US wielding its “big stick” around militarily being inherently phallic. Later in the chapter, she addresses the idea of size as a form of aggression, bringing a conscious epiphany to me that I’ve had many times subconsciously (or unconsciously perhaps as well). I wonder if I keep my fat in part because of the “safety” it infers or as a fallacious idea that it would keep me unattractive and prevent another rape. Shortly thereafter she notes that, while society can view the idea of Black women advocating for themselves as “imperial”, this is an “absolutely untenable” idea. In the US she notes:
“our reproductive capacities were conscripted to build the capital base for the assertion of U.S. empire. After slavery, our bodies and the children they produced were tethered to multiple generations of low-wage work and poverty, providing staffing for the perpetuation of the U.S. underclass. The desire for protection and safety is not an imperial desire. Asking the leaders of our country and members of your race to fight for you (if you’re a Black woman) is not a colonizing act. They are demands for recognition of citizenship and humanity.” (p. 85-86)
See what I mean about her writing? It’s so direct and sound.
Likewise, telling Black girls the solution is to “love
yourself” (p. 91) implies that this would somehow end patriarchy which will
“demand that she be killed for having the audacity to think she was
somebody”. So sadly true.
Her chapter Bag Lady revealed to me the story of Korryn Gaines and her freedom project. What she did basically was replace her license plates with signs reading “Any government official who compromises this pursuit to happiness and right to travel will be held criminally responsible and fined, as this is a natural right and freedom.” Understandable in the wake of the death of Sandra Bland. As Cooper notes, “The struggle by Black people to obtain the free and full exercise of their natural rights and continual forms of structural opposition to these rights have been a fundamental feature of what it is to be Black in America.” (p. 107) And there it is. In one little sentence, a powerful statement about why the Black Lives Matter campaign should be working. But the racism is endemic and the power structures loom large.
And the struggle rings true as she notes “individual transformation is neither a substitute or a harbinger of structural transformation.” (p. 115) How Black women see themselves is obviously affected by the racist narrative of the patriarchy, i.e., “welfare queens”, which shames some Black women to abort children they might otherwise consider having. Cooper also notes: “Individual solutions to collective problems cannot work” (p. 123) as empowerment and power are not the same thing. How Black women overcome at ALL remains a mystery to me. Sadly, far too many have died in this fight to overcome.
Perhaps my favorite chapter was Grown Woman Theology where she deep dives into sex. My usual discomfort with talk on religion was non-existent as she waxed eloquent (see what I did there?) on the subject still often seen as taboo by many. In fact, I kind of love the way she addressed religion’s role in the ideas women can have about their sexuality. On page 129 she references the Southern Baptist Convention “formal apology for slavey” issued in 1995 being from the “white Baptists – the ones who were pro-slavery and pro-segregation”; her Baptist church was not a part of the SBC. Going further, she writes:
“The purity discourse that emerged from Southern white evangelicalism is not separable from the racialized discourse of sexuality and purity that these same Christians have shaped for the whole of American history. The regulation of sexuality by white Christians in the United States has always been about the propagation of a socially acceptable and pristine nuclear family worthy of having the American dream, a family that was heterosexual, middle class, and white.” Yep, so much of this book was packed with this kind of thoughtful analysis. Because she grew up with white girls, she became involved in the purity movement. The thought striking me was how it reminds of the efforts to delegitimize the Indigenous as their lives, intimately connected to Mother Nature, were inherently “sexual” as all of nature is sex. (And death of course, another favorite subject.)
On page 137 Ms. Cooper shares well-written and revealing
perspective on the story of Boaz from the Bible.
“Many Black Christian girls are seduced by white evangelicalism, because, hell, it seems to be working out so well for white people.” (p. 139) Her grandmother’s “fully embodied theology” gave her pause to truly think about her beliefs. “Sometimes this means we have to reject the kind-of Christian teaching that sets up a false binary between flesh and spirit, mind and body, and sacred and secular.” (p. 140) Love it! And interestingly, she explains: “The primarily white male theologians who created the systematic theology of evangelical Christianity were trying to make sense of a theology that fit their own lives and their own worldview.” Thus making clear how some white Christians can read the Bible and still vote Republican – “nothing about the Bible challenges the fundamental principles of white supremacy or male domination.” The support of Blacks for this white evangelical agenda is counterproductive as it’s a “theology that does the dirty work of racism, patriarchy, and homophobia.” (p. 141)
I was thrilled with her draw on Brian McLaren’s work:
“Repentence to me means to ‘re-think’. That’s literally what it means. To think again and to think in a different
direction.” (p. 145)
Moving into Orchestrated Fury, Cooper writes an eye-opening chapter focused in part on a topic that fascinates many: Black women’s hair. [And you thought the topic of sex was taboo.]
Her analysis of Michelle Obama’s hair as narrative was delicious! Fuck-deficit, indeed. Cooper’s subsequent discussion on “responsibility politics” as “a rage-management project” (p. 151) that in large part simply divided Blacks was also informative. Her story of her own Black mother’s quiet intervention with a Black male preacher made clear: “Eloquent rage isn’t always loud, but it is always effective.” (p. 161)
Maybe most lovely to me were her ideas on “cussing and praying… mixing the profane and sacred” noting “No one can cuss you out more eloquently than a Black woman can.” Maybe a stereotype. Still true. The 2015 South Carolina story of Shakara and Niya Kenny gave much insight to the brutality of white power structures and the way inaction on behalf of Blacks allows it to continue. More recent update here. And Minnesota sure doesn’t look good in this NPR coverage of the issue. Thank goodness for Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi birthing the Black Lives Matter concept.
And I must agree with Cooper that Black fear and rage is
more honest (based on it being a reaction to the violence of white supremacy)
than white fear and rage which is simply based in losing power. (p. 169) “Black
women’s rage … when we … focus it on the powers that would crush us into
submission … is a kind of power that America would do well to heed if it wants
to finally live up to its stated democratic aims.” Indeed.
I thought Cooper’s chapter on White-Girl Tears might be a challenge but I found myself agreeing with her assessment of the effects of the “mythic nature of white female vulnerability”. Though I might add something about size or beauty in there too, if only to feel more accurately into it. No one gets more attention in America than the pretty, skinny, white girl in tears. And fat or ugly white girls still get more attention than Black girls on the whole. There is definitely a skew in America to value “the perfect” and “superficial beauty”, which is often depicted as upper/middle class, white, slender, big-boobed, and pretty with perfectly coifed hair and nails. Oh, and dressed to the nines never hurts.
There is a nice assessment of cultural appropriation as well
where Cooper notes:
“White people don’t share. They take over. They colonize.” (p. 177)
I’ve been learning more and more about white privilege and how it shapes so much of how America works, especially in the efforts to basically keep it in place. It seems to me that once white people figured out how to gain advantage, they never stopped, to a point where now three white males in America own as much wealth as half the rest of the population. Think about this. To steal and modify (#WhitePeopleShit) a quote from a recent book on the Indigenous (maybe this one?): We’re all Black now, Sister! And I will say here that I am really needing to learn more about American Shero Ida B. Wells. Cooper sprinkles her ideas and commentary throughout leaving me feeling I missed an important aspect of history by not being required to read more on Black leaders. And so it goes. *
Cooper’s deep dive into white fear includes a review of a case, new to me, of Betty Shelby, a white police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma who “shot and killed Terrence Crutcher , a forty-year-old unarmed black man, during a traffic stop.” (p. 185) Again, the danger Black people face by simply driving a car is disgraceful. How many have died because America has created such a blatant culture of fear? Far too many. And the fear mongers are never-ending.
The issues are complex and Cooper does an excellent job weaving together white fear and its deadly effects, the trial for the killer of Trayvon Martin, Black women’s willingness to call out Black men’s shit, and the infamous Cosby and a lesser known to me Elderidge Cleaver as she hammers out the racism and power dynamics. Cosby’s conviction received much coverage and dissection, unlike the trials of the many thousands of Black men who were falsely convicted of raping white women. While Cooper acknowledges that sins occur in all camps, there is a clear understanding in her work of the bias that profoundly affects Blacks in America.
But I must say, on some level, I can jive with Cleaver’s 1968 dialogue, though the quoted material Cooper shares is horrific. I can comprehend how decades of trauma, disrespect that included blatant killing (and which continues to this day), and nefarious and baseless charges against Blacks would lead one to such hate-filled behavior. I have said more times than I can any longer count that, “If I was born Indigenous or Black, I’d probably be in prison.” And, yes, I do comprehend the aspect of my white privilege which allows me to feel that, had this been true, that I’d have had the courage to speak up or act in ways that would put me in prison. And perhaps I’m fooling myself in thinking I’d have been this defiant, as evidenced by the many ways I’ve backed down or allowed myself to be shut down as a woman.
Perhaps most surprising was Cooper’s discourse on
inter-racial relationships. Her
reasoning on whether or not it’s ok for a Black man to choose white women and
her welcoming of Black women to choose as they will seemed very logical to
Never Scared is a short 20 pages (p. 201-221) but delves into the 2016 election, the idea that fear is the root of all anger, and the sketchy nature of feelings – and that’s just in the first couple pages!
A favorite quote of mine in this book is that “my approach to life is that feelings can’t be trusted” and she subjects them to “intense micromanagement”. (p. 204) She states clearly that growing up Black means your world is a place “where white feelings can become dangerous weapons.” And I realized she is talking about me when noting that “I resent others who allow their feelings to roam around unmanaged, demanding everybody’s attention.” Another aspect of white privilege that I must mindfully keep in check – and at which I fail repeatedly. Because I’m white, this has not yet resulted in my death. Something much harder for people of color to claim. No wonder they are often so quiet. I am stunned now, as I write, by the idea of what an amazing place this America could be, if only we’d had an even playing field where Indigenous and Blacks had as much opportunity to set our course as (often wealthy and powerful) white men. The differences in her latch key childhood and mine were a tough read as well.
As she approaches the idea of fear and faith co-existing she enters a place where she explains how white fear is accepted as fact when very often it is not. Cases in point are two from 2014: John Crawford, shot and killed while shopping (in my hometown stomping grounds), and Jordan Edwards, shot and killed while fleeing for his life with his brothers. (p. 209)
The figures given on net median wealth are astounding and explain much about the struggles of Black women, almost as much as the struggles of Black women explain about the wealth gap. Cooper’s notion that curiosity is often “the first casualty of the politics of fear” (p. 211) leads to a list of some very good questions that we’re missing out on discussing. This again points to the Obama presidency where many whites were challenged in their beliefs on whether a Black man could lead out country. I’d report that he surely can and imagine what could have been done had we actually given him more support. And I LOVE this woman for being willing to speak to white people fear so well.
Yet she faces criticism for her stands, even in the classroom.
And this leads to the idea of Black women being “simultaneously hypervisible and invisible.”
This makes me recall laughing out loud the other night as, I believe it was Leslie Jones in an SNL sketch, said, “I don’t apologize to white people.” Fuck Yeah!!
Ms. Cooper struck home for me when she talked about how men resort to physical belittlement of women when they can’t hold their own on substance. I know the “smart ugly” (p. 223) idea and it has nothing to do with real physical beauty, it’s a scapegoating…
And I could definitely relate to her sharing on how difficult it can be for a successful and intelligent woman to find love. It’s not always easy. But Dan will be the first to tell you he’s comfortable enough in his manhood to write “Housewife” on the IRS return. And he knows the benes that come with loving this smart girl. 😉
That said, Cooper helped me understand the real and substantial obstacles Black women face. And who does Brittney blame? Bill Clinton. (p. 226) In his criminalization of black adolescents, who he and Hillary referred to as “superpredators”, he wrote a heartbreaking story of a destination for the Black race as a whole. In Love in a Hopeless Place, she also discussed her long stretches of celibacy, another commonality we share. But the chapter Favor Ain’t Fair gives much more insight into these ideas, especially with regard to how wealth is a factor. As she comments on the idea of people noting the resiliency of children in addressing the ideas of inequality:
“Celebrating the resilience of poor folks is a perverse way of acknowledging the unreasonable demands placed upon people who already are struggling to make it.” (can’t remember the page…)
Like maybe we should see how long until we can finally break them completely? Sick…
When she talks about elite Blacks “valorizing their hoods”, it makes me think of white people who say, “I have Black friends.”
But she closes with Joy. It’s a blessing I think we can all appreciate.
“May you have joy.
May you have
gut-busting belly laughter, every day.
Senator Utke, Last night I was reading your email update and almost replied. Then I decided it’d just be a waste of my time as you seem so convinced that you are doing the right thing already. But then a neighbor here in Clearwater county called and, when your proposed legislation came up in conversation, they mentioned they were going to call your office on it – and they used some words that weren’t very Minnesota Nice about what they thought of you, but I won’t repeat those here.
That conversation encouraged me to not only contact you regarding this issue, but also to copy Keith Ellison as the Attorney General may have something to consider on your three bills, none of which happen to agree with my beliefs of what is right, and which I actually believe are ineffective (1708), unAmerican (1757), and probably unconstitutional (2011). I give you points for using scare tactics and false statements in your message to constituents but some of us rural folks don’t cow to the fear mongering but instead think logically about what you share and can smell the BS. Find my responses below:
Note: Not sure how Paul’s bill fits exactly. As you will notice from the above links, the second appears to be a bill related to health care while the first says this (in a completely different format to the other links to Senate bills in this blog but which ironically is much clearer than the email verbiage quoted below from Senator Utke): SF 1708 requires that the state pay the full amount of any refund owed as a result of overpayment of property taxes on state-assessed properties. Under current law, the commissioner of revenue is responsible for assessing railroad, and utility and pipeline operating property. If a railroad or utility company appeals an assessment, and the Minnesota Tax Court holds that the property’s market value is lower than it was initially valued, a refund of the overpayment of property tax is ordered. The amount of the refund is charged to all the different taxing jurisdictions that imposed a levy on the property. This proposal requires that the state, instead of the local taxing jurisdictions, pay the full amount of the refund. An open appropriation from the general fund to the commissioner of revenue is provided to make the necessary payments. [Yeah, much clearer than his words to constituents which begs the question… Why? Why not simply say that the State of Minnesota will be liable for the refund on over-payment, rather than something about a warrant being required for payment from the counties?]
You report: “This bill addresses an issue that is very important to our local counties, cities and townships. The Minnesota Department of Revenue sets the assessed value for state-wide infrastructure like pipelines, electric power lines, communication infrastructure and more. Since 2012 the state assessed values have seen large increases and now Minnesota is assessing a value that is 25-35% higher than our surrounding states. These utility companies all do business in many states, so they know when the values have grown to unreasonable levels. Our utility companies are now taking the Department of Revenue to Tax Court and are winning. Current law would have our counties, cities and townships responsible for paying back these overcharges. Our counties, cities and townships do not participate in the assessment process nor do they participate in the defending the assessment in tax court.”
While I agree that finances are always a concern, I believe most of us appreciate the many benefits that government brings and so we don’t mind paying our taxes. It seems a small amount to pay for roads, schools, snow removal, administrators, and services for the veterans, disenfranchised, elderly, disabled, and marginalized. These taxes even pay for people like you to be doing what you do. So we expect that to be representative of ALL of us.
And, yes, we want corporations to pay their fair share too – which it seems they often fail to do. Taxes on the corporations, especially pipelines, are such a pittance of their income, that Minnesota SHOULD be charging them a premium to make billions in profits while risking our land, water, and air to the pollutants that ONLY THEY control. Citizens have no ability to control their maintenance and safety practices, only the oil companies do. And you don’t want to get me started on the latest propaganda Enbridge is spewing everywhere about their 99.999% safety record. What a crock!! I was in Quality Control for years in the steel industry and I have never heard of a company with that kind of safety record unless it’s a medical device company where they use 100% testing to assure the safety of each product. And even THEY still have failures. We all know that Enbridge has one of the worst reputations in the industry for safety so it’s laughable that they would use a safety record in their advertising. They are counting on the gullible, the time-constrained, and the already-on-board to believe this figure without a thought. But they offer no transparency in the source for this figure. Any scientist or industry employee can see the ridiculousness of this number. I believe we should challenge them on it and THAT IS A JOB YOU COULD WELL SPEND SOME TIME ON AS A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PEOPLE. Please let me know if you decide to take up the cause.
You further say in your email on the bill “This bill requires the commissioner of revenue to issue a warrant for payment of any judgement made against our local governments related to utility property tax over-payments,” but what does that do exactly to protect the county? Give them a 30-day reprieve to push out their re-payment? Enbridge is looking for about $20M in recompense over the span of years in question from Clearwater County alone! That’s more than THREE ANNUAL BUDGETS worth of funding for our county! I fail to see from your report what this bill does to protect or help our county. It seems only to add another layer of bureaucracy to an already over-burdened system of paperwork and decision-making.
You report: “This bill says that the Commissioner of Commerce is prohibited from using appropriations to the Department of Commerce to fund activities related to or supporting the appeal of the Public Utilities Commission order issuing the certificate of need for the Line 3 Replacement project. We have one department of state government suing another department of state government over political issues. This is not a good or proper use of any taxpayer money!” Really???
It looks more to me like you can see that there is a very REAL possibility that the scientists at the DOC will succeed in their suit against the PUC, currently being revealed to have made their decision in fallacy and outside their jurisdiction. As was evident in the StarTribune LTEs this weekend, Minnesotans comprehend that the RISK of Line 3 FAR OUTWEIGHS the unnecessary “benefit” Enbridge is trying to sell. And, as severe flooding in the Midwest and global catastrophes around the world make clear, it is time to end fossil fuel infrastructure. It is time to move to renewables. Just because you want a win for Enbridge doesn’t mean as a legislator that you can stop the judicial from carrying out their well-researched and important work. Any win for Enbridge, who have divested of their renewable assets, will be a loss for Minnesotans and the planet as a whole.
Our system of three branches of government will hopefully prevent your attempt at trying to work-around the system – a maneuver I’m frankly sick of seeing from desperate Minnesota Republicans on Line 3.
You write: This bill is known as the Worker Safety and Energy Security Act. It addresses issues that we are seeing more of each year and that relates to those that trespass and attempt to do damage to critical infrastructure. Critical Infrastructure includes powerlines, pipelines, railroads, mass transit, airports, etc. With this bill penalties are increased including restitution. Prosecutors already have some tools to go after valve turners and others who damage critical infrastructure, but the fact that vandals and trespassers keep turning valves in our state means that current laws are not deterring them.”
Oh, so much is truly wrong about your reporting here… First, the name of the bill would more aptly be “The Criminalization of Free Speech Act”. And there is a REASON we’re seeing more public outcry each year regarding the way the fossil fuel industry is literally, and almost single-handedly, KILLING OUR PLANET. When industry and government refuse to act in ways that protect WE THE PEOPLE having a liveable planet, WE THE PEOPLE speak up. This is the foundation of our democracy, in fact, the MAIN WAY much of the needed change has happened throughout American history when elected officials act in ways that are not much better at representing the people than corporations are at being “people”.
And what does this language in your bill even mean? “A person who is found criminally liable under section 609.05 based upon an underlying violation of this section and who is not a natural person shall be liable for a fine in an amount up to ten times the fine allowed for the underlying violation.” How can a “person” be “not a natural person”??? Can you not write in plain layman’s terms what you really mean? No, you cannot. Because to do so would reveal the fact that WE THE PEOPLE are “natural people” while “not a natural person” refers to a “legal” person, or “an individual, company, or other entity which has legal rights and is subject to obligations,” which gets at the root of much of what is wrong in our current government, CORPORATIONS are NOT PEOPLE. But it does make me wonder who you are targeting in your legislation… I do notice that you allow for free speech on behalf of laborers, so it must be some other kind of citizen. Perhaps you can clarify to me who these natural and not natural people might be.
You calling the efforts of civically-engaged Americans like the Valve Turners an “attempt to do damage to critical infrastructure” shows again your attempt at fear-mongering and your misrepresentation of the facts. These conscientious citizens are not attempting to “damage” infrastructure but to PREVENT the damage being done BY the infrastructure. They use safe methods of taking action, which to date have resulted in the oil company itself turning off their pipelines. As the court in Clearwater County showed in acquitting them, there was no case to be made against their actions!
Your attempt to support the utilities in this bill shows only how corrupt our current government is, embedded with corporations that are doing work that is damaging not only to the land, air, and water, but to the very PEOPLE you are supposed to represent. Calling these citizens “vandals and trespassers” is an age-old way of misdirecting the public from seeing the real criminals, in this case, a foreign oil corporation that wants to risk Minnesota’s beauty to make big profits while giving as little of the riches to Minnesota as possible. And if the citizens of this state knew the true risks, Enbridge’s true safety record, and the truth in how the entire process ran roughshod over the very people from whom we stole the land on which we now live, they surely would support these “vandals and trespassers”.
As the global community, including many Americans who are behind the curve (let’s not go down the path of discussing our educational system at this point, though that topic does warrant discussion), awakens to the climate crisis which has been unfolding for decades, and for which almost nothing has been done by politicians and CEOs, you may find your own awakening to the truth. Spoiler alert… It’s time to move to renewable energy which will bring thousands more jobs than your friends at Enbridge.
PLEASE begin to work on ideas that ENHANCE our FUTURE, like renewable energy systems that bring lots of jobs, and ABANDON your outdated ideas like promoting the dying fossil fuel industry and using fear-mongering to control people while giving free reign to corporations. America is changing and you need to change with us.
Well it really has been such a roller coaster the last six months or so of the Line 3 fight. From gearing up excitedly last October when the Valve Turners came for trial to little Bagley, Minnesota to having a bittersweet acquittal. In that same week seeing the IPCC 4th Report on Climate Change and realizing how desperately forked we are because if THEY say we have twelve years to change, that probably really means we have six. And then a torrent of devastating global climate disasters from fires in California to hurricane Michael in Florida to extreme heat in Australia to an abnormally cold and wet Minnesota winter. The stories are daily and never-ending. Here’s some recent footage from flooding in Nebraska along the proposed Keystone XL route. Pretty disturbing. We’re even having to come up with new words to describe the madness unfolding before our very eyes. A friend of mine, Chelsea, posted this crazy event with the following: “Fire tornado, atmospheric river, polar votex, bomb cyclone—we have to invent new vocabulary for the extreme weather events we’re facing as our climate continues to destabilize.”
And if it’s not a climate event, it’s another scientific report confirming the true mess that is unfolding. The latest UN report says we’re now locked in for 3-5 degrees Celsius temperature rise in the Arctic, even IF we hit the agreements in the Paris Accord. A government report showed that Trump’s budget is cutting funds for climate research and renewable energy. And locally it’s reported that Southwest Minnesota lakes are too polluted for swimming or fishing.
How does the board support a project with the environmentally destructive equivalent of 50 coal-fired power plants while backing a carbon-free plan? It raises the question: On what date should we start the weaning process? If you don’t subscribe to the selective science mind-set, the climate science community has laid out a painfully short timeline response: Be carbon-neutral by 2050 or suffer. Suffer a lot. Yet the Editorial Board bases its Line 3 support on a safety issue. Interesting.
Jerry Striegel, LTE 3/17/19 StarTribune
My favorite line in the reader response may be from Rami Jubara, “The fact is, suggesting the creation of new fossil-fuel infrastructure that will help put us on track toward making food shortages, floods, heat waves and polar vortices the norm can be called many things, but an argument for safety is not one of them.” But there was also James Doyle’s “But the fourth and best option was not seriously considered: shut down the existing pipeline, don’t build a new one, and don’t allow rail shipment of carbon intensive tar sands oil across our state.”
But THIS is the blog I’d have written if I was smarter. It’s a wonderful summary of the current state on Line 3. While there is some to celebrate, like the lawsuits still fighting all aspects of the Line 3 approval, there is much to give concern as well:
Sen. Paul Utke, R-Park Rapids, introduced SF 1757 to defund the Department of Commerce’s lawsuit. (It passed out of one Senate committee and is now in the Senate Finance Committee.)
Healing Minnesota Stories 3/14/19 blog
This blog notes that Canada can’t even get a pipeline built in their own country. And comments: “In Minnesota, sales of finished petroleum products (gas, diesel, fuel oil, etc.) has been declining since 2004. We don’t need the extra crude oil here. There is no reason Minnesota should take on huge risks this pipeline poses for little if any benefit.”
Thank you, Minnesota Healing Stories, for your continued excellent coverage of not just the Line 3 issue but also the many stories on history and current events that highlight Indigenous Peoples.
I read this book in late 2018 and recently needed to return it, finding my many tabs marking what I felt were important sections of prose. I decided that I’d write a brief review to capture those ideas.
If you’re not familiar with the book, it’s written by a neurosurgeon and writer who was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer as he was finishing his residency and a postdoctoral fellowship in neuroscience. The memoir describes his life experience that led to him becoming a neurosurgeon as well as his contemplation on how to face his swiftly oncoming mortality.
Early on, he questions, “What makes human life meaningful?” He reckoned that literature gave the best accounting
of the life of the mind while neuroscience laid out the rules of the
brain. He notes in particular T.S. Eliot’s
The Waste Land which relates
meaninglessness and isolation and how Nabokov helps us see how our suffering
can make us callous to the obvious suffering of others. But my favorite reference was to Conrad,
perhaps because of some minor ongoing communication problems between Dan and I
at the time – noting “his hypertuned sense of how miscommunication between
people can so profoundly impact their lives.
I find this idea quite interesting as I contemplate the many times
through the years where I carried, perhaps unnecessarily, hurt or anger for
something said by someone who had no intention of harming me. Or the many times I have felt guilt for
things I’ve done which were subsequently confirmed as unmemorable by the one
toward whom I felt said guilt. I’m sure
there are an equal number of times I’ve caused pain but had no intention or recollection
of harming another.
After recounting an amazing experience he had during a
summer working as a prep chef at Sierra Camp on the shores of Fallen Leaf
Lake. He notes a friend’s summation of
their time there:
Suddenly now, I know what I want. I want the counselor’s to build a pyre…and let my ashes drop and mingle with the sand. Lose my bones amongst the driftwood, my teeth amongst the sand. I don’t believe in the wisdom of children, nor in the wisdom of the old. There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in the moment.
Pages 34-35, When Breath Becomes Air
His move from literature to biology is clearly shown in this paragraph.
His praise for Shep Nuland’s How We Die (p. 52) has resulted in my pulling it from the shelf for
the To Read pile.
I love his discussion on how brain surgery, as with other
major life events, causes us to ask important questions along the lines of what
is most important to us. He eloquently
Would you trade your ability – or your mother’s – to talk for a few extra months of mute life? … The expansion of your visual blind spot in exchange for eliminating the small possibility of a fatal brain hemorrhage? Your right hand’s function to stop seizures? How much neurologic suffering would you let your child endure before saying that death is preferable?
Page 71, When Breath Becomes Air
And he shows the vulnerability of us all as he describes
having a conversation with someone he respected greatly describing the person
as “a moral exemplar” who asked him, “Paul, do you think my life has meaning?
Did I make the right choices?” I guess
we all question whether we did what’s right, whether we did our best, as we
face what appears to be pending death.
After this same friend had completed a year of treatment and was back to
work, he told Kalanithi that “today is the first day that all the suffering
seems worth it.” And this gave him a
realization of how little physicians “understand the hells through which we put
He vulnerably details the effect of his medications on his
physical self, and how this affected his relationship with his wife as well as
his own self-image. He discusses the
emotional battles and describes the importance of his relationship with his
oncologist. And he again turns to
literature as he tries to make sense of it all.
I was searching for a vocabulary with which to make sense of death…
Page 148, When Breath Becomes Air
He denotes going through the process of grief [Denial –
Anger – Bargaining – Depression – Acceptance] in reverse order (page 161-162). This makes perfect sense to me as I’ve
studied a bit about grief and realize there is no real true diagram of a grief
process. Unless it’s this:
His wife Lucy writes the epilogue for the book, completed
after his death. I love that it so
openly shares the experience, especially of the time of his passing. She writes in a paragraph at the bottom of
page 215: “Paul’s decision not to avert his eyes from death epitomizes a
fortitude we don’t celebrate enough in our death-avoidant culture. His strength
was defined by ambition and effort, but also by softness, the opposite of
bitterness. He spent much of his life wrestling
with the question of how to live a meaningful life, and his book explores that
She talks of how he faced “his illness with grace – not with
bravado or a misguided faith that he would “overcome” or “beat” cancer but with
an authenticity that allowed him to grieve the loss of the future he had
planned and forego a new one.”
I love that she talks about the love she feels, even after his being gone from this plane. I respect that she recounts the struggles of their confrontation with the disease as well as the beauty of the time they had together. And I truly believe it was the courage to find and face truth, looking at what brings meaning, that made his life not only meaningful for them, but for all of us who share in reading their story.
Well, I never thought I’d jump into it but… I had a workshop this past weekend around how to use Twitter as a activism tool. And WOW! It is pretty powerful. I remember years ago watching all those news shows with tweets popping up in their broadcasts and thinking, “Who really cares about what these people have to say?” But I realize now, the power of linking voices in a platform that allows me to find supporters, target changemakers, and possibly even fix our climate catastrophe.
Why Twitter? While Facebook has some tagging ability and much sharing potential, Twitter allows one to direct message any group or individual with a Twitter handle. OK, handle is one of the many words I’m learning have a different meaning that I originally thought. But handle is a good word as you can use it to grab a handle on someone to get their attention. When you want to tag someone in your Tweet, you use the ampersand: @JamiG4MN When you want to label a Tweet as associated with something, you use a hashtag: #ActOnClimate Another new word is “card” which is the picture that pops up on your Tweet. [Yes, I am feeler younger by the minute!]
At present, I’m just beginning. I have had to delete 3-4 Tweets as I didn’t like the way they presented. So I’m a SLOW Tweeter!! But I’m getting there. I’m following some folks and some are following me (mostly my friends from the Twitter workshop!) and I look forward to seeing how this works as a tool for generating change.
If you’re a Twit too, come follow me! Together, perhaps we can change the world.
UPDATE 3-8-19: Oh, boy!! I got a mention at MN350 this week after the #SeenAndHeardTraining – yes, check out our fun class on Twitter! 🙂
Guess that 200+ hours I’ve put in since 2019 started is really making a difference! Kinda feel like I’m back to work but it’s working for a cause in which I truly believe so that brings hope, just as Greta Thunberg promised. Power to the People, indeed!! Love her and the school strikes for climate. “Why should we be studying for a future that soon may not exist anymore?” I’m with her. Focusing on saving the planet is way more important than any job I’ve had before.
I wasn’t sure what to expect as I waited for our storyteller to arrive at the Farm by the Lake Storytelling Event February 10th. My friend Emily, aka Nerd, had told me he was “AMAZING” so my expectations were high!
I read his bio from the FBTL Event:
Louis Alemayehu is a writer, educator, activist, poet and mentor of younger artists and activist. His writing has appeared in national and international publications. Alemayehu is a founding member of the seminal, award winning poetry/jazz ensemble, Ancestor Energy, strongly influence by Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. In 2009 the Minnesota Spoken Word Association gave Alemayehu an Urban Griot award for 30 years of excellence as a pioneering spoken word artist. In 2012 the Process Work Institute in Portland Oregon certified Louis as a “World Work Elder” as he engages in art as a “spirit weaver” or community builder, connecting diverse populations. Much of his non-artistic work today is centered on Food Security, Climate Change, Human Rights, Environmental Justice and always performance. Alemayehu has been Community Faculty or “Wisdom Carrier” for the Environmental Sustainability class at the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs where he has taught for 12 years. His performances work draws richly diverse audiences in terms of age, race, class, gender, nationality and education. For him storytelling is essential tool of community building. Over the years his collaborators have included master musicians and composers Carei Thomas, David Wright III, Mick LaBriola, Gary Schulte, Donald Washington, Davu Seru, Mankwe Ndosi, Anthony Cox, Dean McGraw and Douglas Ewart.
He began that day by sharing a bit about his story… growing up on the South side of Chicago. What an interesting life! Then he asked what we expected in showing up for his storytelling. One shared about recently seeing “Green Book” and wondered on what Louis could share on that. I shared that I expected him to provide some spoken word on environmental activism to inspire me as a Water Protector. One or two others spoke their thoughts.
He took a moment to ground and as I closed my eyes with him, I felt the world spin a bit – a lightheadedness that felt powerful. What he shared brought tears. But even more, it brought a message I felt was personal to me. I remember him being overwhelmed with messages coming into his head. I took a moment to send calming energy.
He spoke about being placed in this point in history because we have the needed ability to heal the planet. He spoke in the exact words that I’ve recently heard in other places where I am doing work. He seemed to shine a light on what I am currently doing as being exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. He seemed to be speaking directly to me. I wonder if everyone else felt that way…
I had a call at home that evening so had to scoot out right as the event ended but I took a moment to give a hug and thanks for his message.
Since that day, I spent a bit of time looking for some of his work and found this inspiring piece from 2015 that includes his All the Earth is Holy. And this, a bit more challenging… Akhenaten’s Dream. I believe this may be a meditation I will do regularly. It is a beautiful message of the reality of our situation and yet that there is still hope.
“There is no sanctuary except in compassionate action.”
~ Louis Alamayehu, Akhenaten’s Dream
Grateful to have had a chance to encounter this beautiful and charming soul along my journey.
Wow! What an opener! So much color, so much action, so many voices and dancers! Gorgeous. And that it’s a Latin song, about Havana no less, was beautiful too.
Alicia Keyes did a fine and laid back job of hosting making it feel like you were in her living room enjoying this show front row. Just another sister hanging out… Her opening with Gaga, J-Lo, Michelle, Jada was beautiful – full of love and acceptance and the power of music.
The move from one segment to another where the camera guys got their time ON camera was really neat – a shout out to the people behind the scenes I thought.
The live show feel with Red Hot Chili Peppers was almost
overwhelming for TV until I realized it was truly simulating feeling like you
were at a live show IN YOUR LIVING ROOM!
A lot of the performances tonight were like this – creating not just a
performance but a whole vibe. Small to
large, minimalist to over the top, a really tremendous array of moods and
styles and excellent performances
H.E.R. was unexpectedly impressive. I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but she was amazing. It’s really more I like that the song can kind of be multi-applicable – I think it could be a woman to her lover or a woman and her child, friend, parent… She’s pretty cool. Dan likes H.E.R. too. (I see what he did there!!)
Cardi B’s message was really unattractive to me but her
costumes were amazing.
Drake’s acceptance speech again reiterated the message of
how wonderful all artists are – the Grammy is not necessary – the fact that
someone sings your songs knowing all the words – You’ve Won.
Almost 75-year-old Diana Ross also spoke to the power of music beautifully. And so interactive with the audience – really a string of “we’re all together in this” throughout the entire Grammy evening.
Lady Gaga sang Shallow in her own way. And when we came back from break, was it too early? Or was that choreographed? Alicia giving a shout out and nod to the audience and then… coming back to “on camera”. Regardless, the feeling I got from it was good – like being in the space in a personal way.
Smokey Robinson, Neo, and Jennifer Lopez supposedly got negative reviews but I think they did a great job of bringing the feel of that era to the stage for all these songs – from the costumes to the dancing to the music.
And the Grammy for Best R&B Album goes to…. H.E.R.!!! And bringing her team up? What!?! Nice.
Brandy Carlisle’s Joke was amazing. What a great message.
Best Rap Album went to Cardi B and I was taken by her complete difference in Acceptance than she showed in Performance.
That the Best New Artist acceptance speech was cut off
seemed ridiculous to me. As they were
cutting to commercial anyway, they could have just cut away leaving her to
speak to the crowd at least…
Record of the Year – Chilish Gambino This is America though I really liked and hoped for Brandi Carlisle’s By the Way, I Forgive You.
Album of the Year – Kacey!!!! Gotta love that one…
This is my third Grammy Awards at the Harn and I do believe this is the best one yet. I loved the feeling of love, the acknowledgement of the power of music, embracing of everyone being in this together. Such a diverse lineup of music with something for everyone from 17 to 97 and while some pieces were a bit risque, I appreciated the focus on love of all kinds. So many of the songs were about love, or songs about the human condition, or songs of strength. Inclusivity was the message of the show. And it’s about time.