Life’s Holy Grail

We see beauty for good reason – not simply as an abstract, but because it is a beacon so essential to life.  With appreciation, we become stewards, moving in harmony with the seasons, accepting the nature of things, rather than seeking dominion.  Through awareness, comes a morality that sustains us.

For what is morality but good stewardship, a methodology that sustains and supports all life without judgment?  When we are lost, beauty in many guises stands above all else to light our way.  In the darkest of times, it is our appreciation that gives us strength and understanding. Where our paths will lead we cannot know, nor do we need to know.  We see beauty, we know joy, and our lives are made whole.

The happiest people know this.  They are ever-present and realize that the substance of their lives lies in beauty of the spheres, moment to moment.

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On equality …

Black lives matter, of course, but we need action and words can segregate us.

Language is a problem because when we claim one thing, then the opposite seems just as likely.  Hard to fight the repercussions that come from these kind of statements.  For instance, one might ask, if black lives matter then how about mine?  I am a different color, not black.  Does my life matter too? Why wasn’t my particular color, creed, gender … mentioned?

Of course, we know in retrospect what is meant and why it’s being said. Our hearts go out to all those who have suffered from prejudice and tyranny especially black lives in this country; that is, anyone with a heart feels the shame and the sadness.

Women have suffered, immigrants are suffering now in this country, children go to bed hungry at night, the poor, always, and this knows no boundaries, however defined. When will we learn as a community in mass that this kind of segregation happens not only in practice, but first in words.

(to be continued)

Will we trade the infinite for private profit?

hull_rust_mine
Could dimensions of copper-sulfide mining reach the proportions of the Hull Rust Mine in Hibbing Minnesota? Babbitt, a doorway to the BWCA at Birch Lake and the location of the proposed NorthMet copper mine, is located in the Laurentian Uplands, a recharge area for three of the greatest river systems in North America.

Comments submitted to the DNR on September 7, 2017

RE: “NorthMet Water Appropriation”

The guarantees are clear.  The proposed North Met Project will mine tens of millions to over a billion gallons of water every year sent downstream, 10 percent of this untreated, to the Lake Superior Basin.  This permit will allow the mine to pump billions of gallons of water from its site into streams in the St Louis watershed at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway in the Lake Superior Basin.

Even after closure, for an undetermined amount of time, the amount of water released from the mine naturally and otherwise will be in the millions of gallons annually, treated and untreated. Filters from “treated” water will be concentrated into a toxic sludge left behind in tailings ponds; and the water from this proposed copper-sulfide mine will need ongoing treatment perhaps forever.  Effects from this toxic pollution will span centuries if not thousands of years.

Average annual water required for mine operations has been estimated at 275 gpm, or between 20-810 gpm (SDEIS report), which translates from 10,512,000 gallons of water per year to as much as 425,736,000 annually.  This has been revised into the billions since then, for this permit. Greater than 90% of this water would be captured and treated using reverse osmosis, a process that poses its own risks, including demineralization (2006 by the World Health Organization’s report in Geneva, Nutrients in Drinking Water, Chapter 12), leaving anywhere from 1,0512,000 gallons to over 42.5 million gallons of untreated water that will be sent downstream from the plant (each year).  This water appropriation permit will allow even more.

The Uplands in the Arrowhead of Northern Minnesota include varied and complex aquifers connected along pathways underground that have not been charted and cannot be known.  This fact, coupled with the extreme weather variables of our times, should give anyone pause.  For instance, there can be no guarantee that the earthen tailings ponds holding toxic waste sludge from Polymet’s proposed copper mine could withstand a 1000-year flood of the sort that inundated Houston Texas this year, in August 2017.

What cleanup would be possible of toxic buildup in streambeds and the inevitable contamination of flora, fauna and fungus over hundreds of years resulting from copper mining in this water-dependent, varied and complex ecosystem of the Arrowhead?  The St Louis watershed is uniquely positioned and vulnerable to the toxic effects of a copper sulfide mine.

Water, one of the greatest solvents, can be guaranteed to seek its level through paths of least resistance, many unknown. The water in the St Louis watershed of the Laurentian Divide has been seeking its level over tens of thousands of years to the Hudson Bay Basin, the Mississippi River Basin and the Lake Superior Basin of the Great Lakes, through glacial waters of Lake Agassiz, other glacial lakes and the Laurentide Ice Shield.  Just as naturally, the waste rock and toxic waste ponds from this proposed open pit mine will leach into the ground water; and through rains, ground water seepage, and faults in the bedrock find its way downstream, a guaranteed outcome that cannot be controlled or predicted accurately.

Polymet, admittedly, needs a water permit in order to pollute and mine these vital waters; but loss and degradation of these waters will only be the beginning.  Since the proposed mine site is an important and complex recharge area, artesian wells could be depressurized and other ground water resources diverted or diminished unexpectedly.  Tourism will suffer from the related activities of a large mining operation near the BWCA in Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes where blasting, processing, transportation of products and supplies, road construction and repair will be ongoing while the mine operates.  Wetlands like the 100-Mile Swamp between Babbitt and Hoyt Lakes will ultimately be lost.

A copper mine, then, will change the surrounding landscape, since mining activities know no boundaries.  The dimensions of this mine could change as deposits are discovered and, through precedent, threaten one of the most pristine water-dependent ecosystems, one of the wildest and most beautiful places in the world, the BWCA. There will be no end, once begun, and this will change the meaning of “north woods” as we know it. The Rainy River Watershed and throughout the big stony of the Arrowhead, where copper leases abound, the whole of St Louis, Cook and Lake counties could essentially be affected.

On a balance sheet, what is the price of real wealth, clean water, air, naturally fertile soil, insects, birds, mammals and all manner of life that support the health of this planet?  What price freshwater? Are there truly any acceptable limits to the pollution and draining of the St Louis watershed?

Who, essentially, will profit in the long term by putting these freshwater resources at risk in order to permit this private for-profit enterprise, the NorthMet Project?  It will certainly not be the air quality and the peace, environmental health, the integrity of this wilderness.  What will be left if we allow any and all lands, no matter the cost, to be developed for the profit of a finite term at the degradation of the infinite?

I close here with my formal objection to this water appropriation permit.  I make this objection on the grounds that this permit will allow mining operations in a water-dependent ecosystem that knows no equal, a wilderness that will be changed forever by copper mining. Mining and pollution of millions of gallons of water each year is not in the best interest of those who live in NE MN, those who live downstream, or those who depend on potable water, the wilderness, for its beauty, its wildlife, flora and fauna, its sustenance.  We will all be less for having lost this gem by defaulting on our responsibility to raise the standards of protection for our freshwater.

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

Information concerning the NorthMet project

 

 

What price water?

Three of the greatest water systems in the North American continent find their source in Northern Minnesota.  Polymet, among others, would like to mine copper in the rich, diverse and water dependent ecosystems of St Louis, Lake and Cook Counties.

Once polluted these underground reserves will never be the same … no more land of sky blue waters … and no more “north country”.

There should be no “best schools”

Natural systems favor those who are the most well-adapted to their environment; while money ensures a limited pool through the implementation of an educational hierarchy.

Why is it so often true that the worse of us run the rest of us, causing the suffering of so many?  Many of these leaders, as Benjamin Franklin put it in his famous oration of 1787 on “Dangers of a Salaried Bureaucracy,” are “the bold and the violent, the men of strong passions and indefatigable activity in their selfish pursuits.”

In the beginning it is said, there was the Word; and human civilization, since, has been built on propaganda that favors the rich and powerful … language, then, the tool of those in power, ultimately determines the appropriation of quality educational resources as a result.

For a society to flourish, it is essential that all children have access to an equal education.  It is particularly harmful to communities when women are denied this opportunity; because they are ultimately the ones tasked to raise, protect and educate their children, children who are more likely to suffer a harder life if she fails.

One of the most important choices a woman can make, then, one that determines her quality of existence, is the choice of a mate … better made with a sound foundation and education at the heart.  With knowledge, she is more likely to choose a partner rather than a ruler; and as a result, she will, then, be more likely to build self esteem in her children.

As a consequence, there can be no better way to improve the condition of society than improving educational opportunity for women and girls.  For, when a woman benefits, the whole of society benefits.  Seeing to it that there are no “best schools”… all schools offering the best tools possible for everyone who enters in, boy or girl, man or woman, creates better odds that our leaders will be fit and that society will thrive.

Manipulated by propaganda that tells us self-worth is in our wallet, we lose a natural propensity for good sense.  As my father said to me once:  “The rich put their pants on one leg at a time too.”  We know the truth but too often are swayed by the flashing lights.

Money will not make America great again … it’s the character of our citizens that will do this.  We had a courageous leader in George Washington who believed that we must: Vindicate our rights with firmness and cultivate peace with sincerity.  It will take courage  to stand up to the powerful interests that prevail today; and to understand that power, to be respected, must have a base in truth and respect for all life.  When we develop a society with equity in education, and dare to get money out of the political arena, perhaps we will have leadership that speaks to these values as well.

A copper sulfide mine in the Arrowhead of Minnesota will change the meaning of “north woods” as we know it.

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Over a century’s toll of mining iron ore in the uplands of the Laurentian Divide:

For the sake of our waters and the northern ecology of this priceless watershed, please send your comments by September 12, 2017 to:

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/polymet/permitting/water_app.html#plymtwap

Comment period on Polymet water permit opened August 11, 2017

The 30-day comment period for Polymet’s permit to mine and pollute the headwaters of the Great Lakes’ St Louis watershed, was opened on August 11, 2017.  If entirely permitted, this privately owned company will be allowed to construct an open pit copper sulfide mine for profit in the Arrowhead of Minnesota leaving the necessity to treat and protect this vital aquifer for centuries.

Polymet claims that it will do the clean-up and protect our waters.  What company can make this promise in truth anywhere, especially in this complex geological aquifer?

Please send your comments by September 12, 2017

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/polymet/permitting/water_app.html#plymtwap

The difference between “endangered” and “threatened” can make all the difference …. to a mine.

Timber wolves have long shared the wilderness with mankind and so it is in Northern Minnesota.  If Polymet builds a copper mine in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, and sets the precedent for other companies to do the same, it becomes obvious, then, why the removal of wolves and others from the “endangered species” list has been such a persistent issue.   In order to mine, the taking of endangered species becomes an added cost, since a permit must be issued for the taking.

Among the animals that have been taken from “endangered” to “threatened” are the gray wolf and the Canada lynx.  I include just one link below.

https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/lists/minnesot-spp.html

Our water will be more than “threatened” by a mine in this wilderness, and so will the lives of all species in the area, whether “endangered”, “threatened” or not.  A rose by any other name is still a rose.

About

Loon Lake / oak tree / anita / photo

As I have been all my life, in a query about the working of the world through art, writing, studies, observations … wondering just how far we will go, how far we can go in our quest to develop past a state of survival.  With ever increasing populations and an insatiable desire to dominate the natural world out of fear, we seem destined to repeat the same mistakes … destroying the very thing that sustains us and nurtures us.

Will we continue to foul our water and air and destroy our canopy? Will we curb our population growth with respect so that we can sustain a life worth living for all species on this planet, through planning and wise management?   What is life without the beauty that comes with diversity?  What is life without kindness?  What is life without truth? What is life when it comes so cheap with no respect?  Will we eventually move toward stewardship not dominion?  Sometimes I question whether we have any choice in our lives but the attitude we choose.

Life is a bed of roses, truly, but with thorns; and so it seems that the appreciation of beauty is, not only, as Thoreau believed, a “moral test” but essential to life.  We all have trials, moments where the corruption in our justice system, political and social systems, or injustices and misfortunes on a more personal level seem to far outweigh the good in life … tests that promote a sort of pessimism and a cynicism that keeps us from appreciating the good that comes our way in each passing moment.

Anita S. TILLEMANS, Relator, v. PIERCE COMPANY OF MINNEAPOLIS, INC., and Mutual Insurance Corporation, n/k/a APCapitol, Respondents

(The above case was fought four long years and I include my comments at the above link.)

I truly believe that it is wise to find joy, no matter what may come your way; and that the greatest joys are shared.  It seems also true that beauty as it is, in the eye of the beholder, comes in many guises and needs an open mind and eyes wide open to see the truth.

May you find beauty in every day.

anitasartwork

Gallery at Mn Artists

A Case for Justice

Archived Work

What harm could mining do in the watershed of the BWCA and headwaters of the Mississippi River?

In light of the ongoing process to permit the Polymet to mine copper in Babbitt with a processing center in Hoyt Lakes, I am reposting my article first published in November, 2012:

A view of Northern Minnesota as the battle rages for copper, sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.

 

America Incorporated or American Democracy?

I have long believed that our democracy was at risk through negligence.  Too many distractions: television, internet, shopping for things that money will buy, constantly processing useless and energy robbing information ….  We mistake a movie or sitcom for life, friends on social media for family, big houses and fancy cars for worth; and, in the process, miss the very life-giving force of living a life that is true to our own real needs.

It takes effort to develop these things and face-to face contact with our sleeves rolled up. It takes affection, appreciation and attention for this democracy to survive, all of which is at the heart of love.

May love prevail in this country.

 

What is the difference at the heart of any religion, when truth and kindness reign?

Kindness and truth are at the heart of all religions.
Quotations from the Muslim Prophet Muhammad:

On kindness:
Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith.
None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.
He who helpeth his fellow-creature in the hour of need, and he who helpeth the oppressed, him will God help in the Day of Travail.
They will enter the Garden of Bliss who have a true, pure, and merciful heart.

On riches:
It is difficult for a man laden with riches to climb the steep path which leads to bliss.
O Lord Keep me alive a poor man, and let me die poor and raise me amongst the poor.
Seek for my satisfaction in that of the poor and needy.

On truth (heaven, self-knowledge):
Heaven lieth at the feet of mothers.
He who knoweth his own self, knoweth God.
Learn to know thyself.

Success?

anita_northwoods_hike
Where will the quiet places be found, the wilderness areas that sustain all life if we, as a society, continue to place money above all else?

Understanding the true meaning of success was a journey through a maze of propaganda and a lifetime of searching for the truth.  I searched in the first place because I understood viscerally that propaganda was leading me in the wrong direction.  It did not make me happy to follow these trails.  I did not find true wealth in money and material things. Truth for me was found in the humanity of a smile, the beauty of a sunset, the warmth of firelight … and so I found that success in my life was inextricably linked to beauty, and that knowledge of this truth was the only thing that could bring me the happiness so important for it realization.  It required me to reach outside of myself into a larger landscape to fulfill the admonition:

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Jesus of Nazareth

Truth and kindness, then, made its way into my formula for success.  Suited to every individual bar none; and the difficulty lies within ourselves, our own ability to see beyond the mundane sphere of our lives to the greater world around us, in order to know true success.

What would this planet be like if we took it upon ourselves to make this our life’s mission; and if we understood that whatsoever we do to the most humble of us we do to ourselves?

It does not mean going out of our way to do good for others. Leave someone alone, if need be.  Show respect as you would have it … a simple smile or a greeting.  What would you want?  What would you expect if you were in their place?  This kind of success knows no boundaries and no static definition.  It is defined by the people who live it.

For a better world.