How many truths are ignored for fear?  Like a credit card debt, we may not want to look; but the bill will come due in any case.  Those debts demand payment with the exponential force of a hurricane.  Climate conditions, fueled by multiple, complex layers of injustice fuel even more aspects of injustice and poverty around the world, as the elite procrastinate on action that could make a real difference.

I’m sure that we have all been in a meeting where nothing gets done, everything put off for further research and discussion, so that no one has to make a decision, take blame or responsibility.  Excruciating.  Procrastination is not what we need right now.  We have the facts.  We know that this planet cannot sustain rampant deforestation, pollution and degradation of our soils, water and air.  We know that there must be moderation in all things, especially the unearthing of fossil fuels; but the desire to succeed at all costs for the sake of a few, to the detriment of many, continues.  Greed is an addiction that corrupts all good sense.

We know that additives produced from fossil fuels will keep the oil industry in the money for years to come, while our earth is slowly destroyed.  Wars fuel more of the same; and our government agencies must, for the sake of all life, stem the corruption that flows like a green river from these corporations into the coffers of those who decide the balance.  Our environmental debt will come due without prejudice.

Our fates will be decided by those who have the courage to look at the debt we owe and do something about it.  This is no mystery.  We have seen these people throughout history, standing when no one else had the courage to lead.  We need leaders who take these kinds of risks and have the understanding that comes with experience and kindness, in all aspects of life.  Those who can look at the truth on a daily basis, call it what it is, and take action that others may not.

One thing I learned late in life is that arrogance cannot be found in a kind person.  Another, that the humblest people have respect for all life, including themselves.  This is why they can be kind, because they are kind to themselves.  They don’t waste their time striving to prove themselves to others, because they know their value, and understand the facts of life in all it’s forms and realities.  Once realized, each debt is met with good common sense and without fear.

I recently visited the Grand Canyon.  It was the first trip there since I was twelve, and planned for a lifetime.  I was not disappointed; and it left me in awe at the subtle colors in its stratification, some rocks 1.8 billion years old. The Grand Canyon relatively young at only 6 million years. As a painter, I see the impossibility of duplicating its beauty.

I took a trip to see Lake Superior on my birthday, before the gales of November, which arrived like clockwork on the anniversary of the downed SS Edmund Fitzgerald.  The lake was beginning to stir and it, too, left me in awe.  I could no sooner capture it’s beauty in a painting. A body of freshwater to rival any in the world. The land in Minnesota contains one of the oldest known rocks at Granite Falls: a formation 2 billion 800 million years old of granitic gneiss.

We have a lot to learn and don’t seem to know what we have here on Earth do we?  Sending oil pipelines through some of the most vital freshwater resources in the world.  Daming rivers like the Colorado that ultimately need to run free to do their work, instead of finding solutions that will work longterm.  The rivers are running dry while we debate the issues. Though, there is work being done, much more is needed and with no holds barred.

One of the most vital lessons I learned as a writer, and have yet to perfect, is letting go of unnecessary words. Still a struggle for me. It does seem a worthy proposition for us in our struggle for a better world, though. Moderating and letting go of bad habits that we learned before we knew better. There is not only much to do, but much to stop doing.

For a better world.

Climate Emergency: The Truth, Like a Credit Card Debt

A woman’s choice and the path she takes

There is no decision more important ‘ in a woman’s life than the man she chooses to marry.  No other decision affects her so deeply, and for the rest of her life.

Respect in her own inalienable rights as a sentient being with rights to happiness, liberty, justice as anyone, are at the foundation of who she chooses as a mate.  If she expects little, this is what she will get.  Beauty can be a woman’s worst enemy in these choices if she is not aware.  She will be approached by many and she must be wary and empowered with a sense of her own worth so that she can make a future for herself and her children, which is a vital and life affirming necessity for society.  So, too, that she will choose a worthy mate.

Beautiful women do not have it easier as many of the same sex might think.  Such a sad mistake.  I’ve known too many who have been abused and misused, not only from the opposite sex but from their own sex because of this misunderstanding.  It is not an asset to be so desirable and it bodes ill for development of a deeper and much richer inner life when this is all that seems necessary to get attention that many would do better without.

No words necessary for this kind of issue.  We’ve all seen the fallout.  Still, it goes on; and superficial beauty seems forever mistaken as a panacea to the powerlessness that many women feel as second class citizens in a male dominated society.  It should not be necessary for a woman to deny who she is, her body type, her personality, her desires, her dreams … in order to get along and live a life fulfilled.

Many men will tell you that this is not so.  That women have so much more power than they really do.  All we need do is look at history to know the truth.  Take a look at movies, magazines, social media, and know.  In a world where women are powerless without a man, a woman may reach for anything.  Starve unless she works twice as hard as any man to get half the wage.  Accept less than she wants or needs.  A woman will beg, borrow, lay her heart on the line just to live, with the dignity she deserves and so that her children will have a fighting chance, or so she may live in peace.

Above all, women should have rights over their own body.  No man, no government entity, no law should be allowed to trump this right.  I have always wondered how a man could deny a woman this inalienable right and then abandon the product of this injustice at birth.  It seems a woman must succumb to a man’s will from conception, to birth and beyond … then pay for the injustice after the birth of her child, a child that may not have been wanted, and must suffer those consequences with her.

In all fairness, a man must pay for the child’s up bringing, hospital bills and other costs associated with a court ordained and forced birth.  Justice should have it no other way; and if this were the case, you would see fewer unwanted pregnancies in a world already over populated.

Like I mentioned earlier, one of the most fateful decisions a woman can make is her choice of a mate.  This choice should be for a partner, a friend, a life long companion.  One who respects her, loves her and abides by her choices and the sovereignty of her own body, as she would respect him.  A man with understanding and this kind of respect is an asset not only to the woman but to the whole of society.

What is the status of Polymet’s Northmet Project and why should we care?

Will the Northmet Copper mine Project reach the proportions of the Hull Rust Mine?

The Arrowhead of Minnesota has been in the sights of mining interests for more than a few decades. Courageous individuals during that time, many, the likes of Sigurd Olson, defended this priceless wilderness their lives long; and we owe a great debt to all of these souls. The Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness is here for us to enjoy because of people like this, who saw a much deeper meaning in “value” than the material, much deeper than money could buy.

Soothsayers would have us believe that mining is a panacea; but it will not save us from ourselves and it has major drawbacks. Mining precious metals in a water diverse and dependent region like the Arrowhead will hasten the destruction of our base, this earth, it’s air and waters, it’s ecosystems. Better solutions are on the way and “prove it first” laws will help us sort these issues out and take the time to test and find long term solutions that do not destroy our base.

canoeing in the North Country MN

What other planets are there in this universe, that we know of, that can carry the water for us, and allow us to breath clean air? The simple fact that Polymet’s Northmet Project has not been implemented to date is good enough evidence that it was and still is a bad idea.

All who live and breath pollute. We have a responsibility to give back, to refrain from projects that will make the situation worse, and to clean up for that reason alone. There is a difference between stewardship and dominion, and that difference is between life and death.

Court rejects PolyMet air pollution permit

Save Our Sky Blue Waters on Facebook

Readers Write: The pandemic’s end, PolyMet mine, Water Works artist

PolyMet NorthMet Mine

Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness article on:

PolyMet Mine

“Threatening Lake Superior and thousands of people who live downstream, the PolyMet copper-sulfide mine is a snowplow that would clear the way for future copper-sulfide mining near the Boundary Waters and in Minnesota.”

Mining Prospects in the Arrowhead

SDEIS Comments concerning Polymet

Can You Dig It? The Battle Over Polymet Mine (PDF) Singer

Arrowhead Aquifers and the Hill of Three Waters

We could speak of the beauty, the wild, the spirit of something greater than ourselves, the sustenance we all gain from these masterpieces.  Such is the Arrowhead of Minnesota

What is the true source of three of the greatest water systems of North America, that of the Rainy River, Lake Superior drainage basin, and Mississippi River? Have underground aquifers and waterways in the Arrowhead been mapped such that we can understand the full scope of these resources?


Water cascades in great quantity from the “big stoney” to Lake Superior and parts unknown …

Legend has it that various tribes of the Ojibwe were pressed to defend their forests from an invasion of Sioux at one point. Since the buffalo had not returned to their territory as expected, the Sioux were in search of the sustenance in lands claimed by the Ojibwe, abundant and fruitful, forested wetlands of what is now known as Northern Minnesota. Since the Sioux were fierce and savvy warriors and could defeat the small tribes of Ojibwe individually throughout the land, leaders decided to unite. They met to decide their strategy on the “hill of three waters”… a unique quirk in geography, one mile north of present day Hibbing where water falling at this precise point can divide and flow in three directions, one to the Gulf of Mexico, one through the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, and the last to Hudson Bay.

Chiefs of the Ojibwe traveled from Canada, Lake of the Woods, and Nett Lake following water routes in the Big Fork River and Shannon River to unite with other leaders at the “hill”. Leaders of those Ojibwe in the Big Sandy Lake area and Mille Lacs Lake took waters north on the Mississippi and Prairie Rivers to Day Lake and then up Day Brook to the “hill”. Chiefs from Wisconsin, Fond du Lac, and Lake Superior joined their brothers on the “hill of three waters” by taking the St Louis River and Penobscot Creek. Unified, they eventually defeated the Sioux and regained their territory.

Along the Laurentian Divide where the “hill of three waters” is located, white settlers believed that the direction of flow was directly North and South. Native Americans knew long ago that this was not the case throughout the divide, and that water flowed to the river basins of Lake Superior, Rainy River as well as the Mississippi River, particularly at this point, where the Hull Rust Mine is located now. As a result of mining and pollution emerging in unexpected areas, we have learned that unusual geological formations exist in northeastern Minnesota that guarantee a complicated and diverse environment not easily understood.

For instance, portions of the South Kawishiwi River Intrusion and of the Partridge River Intrusion can be found underground at the same Babbitt location in and around mining facilities. Therefore, underground water in parts of Babbitt flow not only into the Partridge River watershed but also into the Rainy River watershed, which shares water with BWCAW. This is complicated even further by overlying and sometimes interconnecting aquifers – surficial and buried, contained and uncontained within varying compositions. Contained aquifers can potentially discharge water a hundred miles more or less from the recharge area or site of pollution. Groundwater and surface water frequently diverge in this area, and so more knowledge is needed concerning Minnesota’s groundwater geology before we can truly begin to understand the consequences of our actions regarding mining of any kind.

Wetlands abound in the “stoney”, along with thousands of flora and fauna, many rare and uncommon. There are orchard orioles, killdeer, snow geese, loons, woodcocks, purple finch, mink, great blue heron, broad-winged hawks, eagles, partridge, beaver, wolves, moose, bear, Canadian lynx, coyotes, blue bills, mallards, night hawks, snowy owls, white-throated sparrows, deer, blueberries, bearberry, rock ferns, caribou moss, and so many other species of plants and animals. What is the potential harm to these populations if the fragile balance of this ecosystem is destroyed, an ecosystem so interconnected with the health of its waters?

Do we sell or do we protect? This is what this decision concerning Polymet Copper Mining comes down to, essentially. There are no real guarantees that Polymet will be around to pay for clean-up once the mine closes and the money runs out of state; and we will never be able to undo the damage of their intrusion into these hydrological treasure troves, a literal mother lode for our planet’s fresh water. Have we already done irreversible damage by allowing almost 2,000 bore holes for copper mining prospectors near the BWCAW?

Groundwater in the area naturally seeps into holes drilled or pits dug in the area. As a consequence, while the mine is in operation, Polymet will continuously discharge water from mining pits and tailings basins to extract the ore. Colby Lake will serve as a source of supplementation and discharge, and widespread discharges will occur in the form of untreated, contaminated water along with altered (treated) water at both sites into the Partridge River, Embarrass River watersheds and the entire St Louis River watershed. These are the knowns.

Since aquifers recharge normally on high ground and discharge in low lying areas, the affected aquifers and water bodies will essentially be mined, as rock is extracted in the Laurentian highlands, instead of recharging (as nature would allow). Loss of pressure, as a consequence, in confined aquifers (artesians) could have devastating and far-reaching consequences; and, of course, we cannot truly know how many wetlands will be lost due to drawdown of the water table and the cumulative effects of long term contamination above and below ground.

Once the mine is closed, the threat to vital fresh water resources would continue, most likely into perpetuity and, therefore, maintenance at an estimated cost of at least $6,000,000 annually. The actual costs will, more than likely, be far greater. In a myopic view alone, what of inflation and the logistics of changing political will and financial realities? How long will water continue to seep into and from the bedrock of the Laurentian Divide contacting waste rock in the mine pits as well as contaminated water in the tailings basins? Do we even know how much water is involved? Can we know?

Ongoing treatment, passive or aggressive, will never return these waters or this region to its original state. Observe ongoing pollution witnessed from mining in the area already. What financial or political assurances would suffice in a tragedy of the scale that sulfide mining would unleash?

From limited hydrological information available to date concerning underground flowage for these vast bedrock formations in the Arrowhead, it seems that the calculations Polymet has made are insufficient to describe the scope of ecological damage possible in this unique environment, and therefore, the effect on freshwater reserves in the stoney of Lake Superior and Rainy River Basins at the very least. Consider the diversity and interconnectedness of the aquifers in St Louis, Lake and Cook counties, the unpredictability of discharge locations from confined aquifers, the potential of contamination by bore holes traversing aquifers. Due to these and so many unknown factors associated with this complex geological area, how is it possible to predict short term or long term consequences of mining this priceless water table for the extraction of any ore body?

It is likely that water in the area’s confined aquifers could be thousands and possibly millions of years old, the implications of which cannot be ignored for any amount of money. We have waste on this earth that could be recycled without destroying our environment, our home. Have we come to a crossroads in our handling of this planet, an ecosystem that we so dearly need for our survival? Isn’t water more important than any profit we can make from mining? Once understood that we cannot mine our water resources without devastating results, perhaps we will favor sane and ecologically sound solutions to those challenges that engage us?

We could speak of the beauty, the wild, the spirit of something greater than ourselves, the sustenance we all gain from these masterpieces. Such is the Arrowhead of Minnesota. What profit is there if not life itself? It is undeniable that people in the area need jobs … although, who of these long term residents came with the intent to mine this jewel? If given the opportunity to work in a sustainable activity, who would not choose to do so? What kind of opportunities could be created with a mindset that encourages positive long term results over short term gains and financial profiteering? Don’t we owe it to ourselves and life itself to make the effort?

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

originally published

January 31, 2014

Cook County, MN

Thinking Outside of Desperation …

What can be said to those who believe that temporary jobs and short term profit trump clean water and the health of our environment? What can be said when most of those bulldozing trees and digging ditches for Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline are just doing a day’s work to feed themselves and their families? Are they considering life beyond the present moment? Perhaps they care in a limited way and feel some guilt, or maybe not … but, for most, it’s a choice between food on the table and a future that they cannot imagine. This is what they know and the jobs are available … for now.

How do we change minds that are fixed on one possibility because it is the easiest route to take … like oil flowing downstream into our precious water reserves and destroying life in it’s path? They are simply acting on an immediate need; but, are they being true to their natures, like water and oil? Is it in our natures to accept evil for a pittance in a pinch?

What could happen in our communities when we think outside of desperation and begin thinking of long term good, a good that will make these boom and bust economies a thing of the past? When one acts in a personal but selfless manner without expecting gain, it leaves the door wide open for unexpected and unfathomable rewards on a more universal level.  So there is no one defining action, and that means that it can cover the gamut of what is needed in this world. Where there is imagination, there is possibility.

I think humans need to see good and want to feel a part of that good; and the most profound good one can feel is when others benefit.  Where do we start if it doesn’t come from being true to ourselves and being fearless in our search for that truth?

Trees and greenbacks


On the subject of green, green in the form of money and green in the biodiversity of vegetation, a sea change is in order.  This must be addressed by all that live and breath in the way we set up our homes, our diets, our daily lives.  How do we get to work, where do we work and how do we apply our talents in order to survive?  What do we eat and where does it come from?  How is that food processed and what does it do to the Earth and our ecosystem?  

It has been 21 years in April since I moved to my last home in Minneapolis, each move to a smaller more appropriate space for my needs.  I had come from privilege, neither rich nor poor.  I consider it a privilege in a world of hunger and thirst to have had a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food in my stomach, though I had more.  I had two parents who loved me and educated me.  I had no worries about where my next meal would come from, while all around me from the time I was four, I saw many who didn’t have that luxury.  I saw it in the streets of Caracas and Maracaibo and in New Orleans….  I saw it in our maid Francesca who had to work raising other women’s children in order to feed her own, who couldn’t marry in the church for the cost of a wedding.  I saw it in an old Spanish artist, with cataracts in his eyes, who opened his rolled canvases on our floor to show my mother.  Canvases she bought.

Through it all, there were trees in my life.  Trees I could climb and trees that dropped their fruits on the ground for us to eat.  Trees that shaded us from the sun and rain, that breathed the breath of life, that cleaned the air and shielded us from the weather.  These were large trees with large communities to support … squirrels, chipmunks, birds of all kinds, iguanas, tarantulas, pileated woodpeckers, hawks, mockingbirds, falcons, fungus, robins … the homes and grocery stores for many.

Under the shade of these trees we could live.  We would thrive.  We saw the difference between places with and without trees.  Trees could make the difference between 10-20 degrees on a hot summer day.  In the winds and snow of winter, trees protected and provided.  The live oaks in Louisiana stood for centuries with branches that grew parallel to the ground like alternate pathways.  The bayous were filled with life and trees in the mangroves protected the land from violent ocean waves in hurricanes and typhoons all over the world.

Trees are more than wood for a fire.  They are more than fodder for a building or the floors in a house or cabinets in a new kitchen, or a table in a decked out living room.  Trees are life.  They are living, growing protectors of us all.  They shield us from climate impacts, buffer the effects of the daily weather roller coaster.  Trees provide more than greenbacks in our pockets.

As I looked out the window on a bus recently, viewing a line of trees all trimmed to maximize board feed for our urban forestry goals, to feed the furnaces and serve the lumber interests, I paused to look at one that was allowed to spread in a private yard, to serve as a living resource.  There was no comparison.  One was beautiful and thriving.  The others stood like soldiers, uniform, with no character of their own.  As  an artist, the difference was stark for me and the truth naked.

We build with this timber processed, often, for chipboard, which must involve glues and other materials that harm the environment.  We paint it with materials, most of which are made from fossil fuel.  There are over 6,000 derivatives from oil, manufactured into carpets, flooring of all kinds, wood lookalikes, and byproducts made to look natural but are often produced in unnatural ways …  Even beauty products contain oil derivatives.  Much of our food is dead and tasteless; so, we add salt and sugar to make it palatable.  Forests are being destroyed so that more of these dead products can be made devoid of trees.  Not good for our health in a world that needs these living giants more than ever.

All of this, so we can buy more of what we don’t need.  We build bigger and bigger houses to fill it with more and more stuff that we hardly ever use, so that we can feel as though we are keeping up with our neighbors who are building “bigger and better” always.  This is not unusual for animals to do.  You see this in many species … peer pressure is a powerful thing.  We have intellect though, or so we’re told.  So how is the human race any different than all other creatures if we can’t control our own innate instincts?

In some ways, I would argue, we are not as smart as our counterparts.  Even elephants know when to stop doing what is harmful.  Wolf packs have a system of maintaining balance.  Only man destroys without reason.  Money is less than that.  It’s useless without trees, water and air.  It’s useless without the resources we need for survival … and we need all that nature provides for free.  Only man must exact a cost for what nature gives for free.  Limiting supplies so that more money can be made.  Making everything in larger mass, larger quantities so that more and more greenbacks can be made at the loss of the only green that will create balance.

Our urban canopy of old growth trees is essential; and our forests are undeniably the canopy of this planet.  We destroy for profit at our own demise.  More chemical agents, more oil derivatives will cost us more than our trees.  This green carpet of diversity and fruitful balance is here for all species that require water; and that means everyone with the breath of life.  We must all be a part of the change … for love of wilderness and for love of life.

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What will be the future of this democracy if we do not protect the people’s house?

We had an unprecedented attack on the US capitol by a group of violent Trump supporters who did not agree with the results of the 2020 election.  Their candidate of choice lost that election.

What did then President Trump do when he knew that the mob, which he encouraged, had turned violent?  When he knew that our leaders, Vice President Pence and Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, were in mortal danger?

He did nothing to protect them, support the overwhelmed capitol police, or to stop the insurrection.

What did he swear on the bible at his inauguration?

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

What would any of us do if this were our homes, our neighborhoods? 

What more is in store if we do not protect the people’s house by holding ex-President Donald J Trump accountable?  An impeachment trial is just such a venue, provided with foresight by the fathers of the United States Constitution.

It is Lincoln’s birthday today.  What did President Abraham Lincoln say in his Lyceum address?

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.
–January 27, 1838


“A government which deliberately enacts injustice, and persists in it, will at length ever become the laughing-stock of the world.”
Henry David Thoreau in Slavery in Massachusetts

Thoreau on abolition …

“The fate of the country… does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot-box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.” ― Henry David Thoreau / Slavery in Massachusetts