Footprints

Our steps take us many places in our short, fairly eventful lives.  We brave the elements and the various courses essentially as though we have a choice.

I have spent most of my life believing that I had a choice, that each course before me was created anew by that choice and my will to make it happen.  I never gave much credence to some grand plan or destiny,  ordained by the stars, by God, by a greater power.  Life seemed a grand frontier, an open plain waiting for each one of us, depending upon our will.

Silly me.  We can see but not understand.  We can be made to look away or excuse what we see.  The truth is often hidden from our innocent eyes.  In my young life, there was poverty before me, all around in the city streets of New Orleans, Maracaibo, Caracas, South Dakota, Houston, and in towns around California, especially visible closer to the border … and now in Minneapolis, where I have spent almost fifty years.

What happens to young children when they have only their wills to get them through a life of poverty, a life without good education or opportunities to lift up and broaden their perspectives, their choices?  What is the greater part of society missing when this happens?  We all suffer.

Does a child in this kind of situation have a choice?  Do any of us have a choice?  Our environments set our choices for us much of our lives.  It is easy for a man or woman of means to say we have choices.  It seems so obvious to someone who has options, opportunities and a hand up in life, all of one’s life … someone with money, with time and people who love and support them.  It’s not a given to those without.

The will to survive is a powerful and necessary ingredient in our lives.  It can make us saints or criminals, and most often it makes us products of our environment.  What else could be expected?

When women and men enter lives of prostitution, for instance, are they not products of their environment?  Why does anyone enter “the life” selling that most precious of commodities, their spirit, their bodies to be used and abused by others?  What has been done to a man who would buy or sell another human for profit or pleasure?  What kind of choice is this?  It is not the person, but the environment, that needs profound change.

I finally understood that so much in our lives is determined for us by our environments, and that understanding is necessary to change society for the better.  We need to understand that many people have few options and therefore enter lives that they would rather not, if only they were given a better playing field.  Treating the symptoms will never cure the dis-ease.

I found that my own choices were determined not only by my own potential, but initially and essentially by my environment.  I was lucky in many ways, had the education, the mother and father who loved me so perfectly imperfectly, the experiences that broadened my perspectives and gave me an understanding of the life before me.

How many children are we losing every day, how many lost opportunities for a better world?  How many beauties are being lost to a world with no vision?  When will this change?  When will we open our eyes wide open and understand that every child deserves to be loved; and put that understanding in action providing the best educational opportunities we can give them and lives with options.

Things need to change holistically.  Love needs to be our profound all-encompassing business for the betterment of all society and the love of beauty as we take our steps through this life.

Doing Business

What does it mean to “do business”?  Do we plan for all outcomes to our best ability and consider the quality of air, water, the health of our planet, beforehand, as the bottom line and love the ultimate business of all?

In a world where success is measured by the size of a bank account, living becomes a battle between the richest and the rest, where profits determine long term outcomes in a destructive race to exploit our natural resources for short term gain.  This current measure of success is a fool’s game in opposition to the health of this planet .

As harsh as it may seem, our leaders, in essence, are the face of our own choices.  In a democracy, we can change the status quo in our own day to day business by making choices that are true to our better selves.  When we support those enterprises that act on healthy instincts, instincts based on love, we increase the wealth for all.  When the leaders of business choose based on love for the health and well-being of their own children, grandchildren, they will naturally choose to act in ways that will be more beneficial to all.

There are over 170 million pieces of debris in orbit around the Earth, with over 8,500 known items in low Earth orbit accounting for more than 5,500 tons in 2008.  According to a 2011 report by the US National Research Council, the amount of debris had reached a critical level.

This, a present day conundrum, since the rush to launch various products into orbit has failed to address the necessity for eventual safe disposal, as we so utterly failed in the nuclear industry. Leaving the orbits around Earth with enough waste to look like the rings of Saturn, resultant waste endangers further launches and those of us on the ground with potential out-of-control collisions in orbit and an average of 200-400 hunks of metal waste falling to Earth every year.

Will robots, further technology, promised solutions be enough to remove the pollution in space, our air, on the ground, and in our waters before the progress we hold so dear destroys any chance of renewal?  The solutions we seek require nothing less than a whole-hearted change in the way we do business and this means every one of us.

There will be changes no matter what we do now; but without the love that comes from a respect for the natural world, for the health of this planet and the well being of our progeny, those changes might not be what we want. Out of necessity, though, they will be what nature requires.

Recalling Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Things do not seem to be getting any better for the environment since my first trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula in 2003. The night before that trip, snowfall set leaves changing in the Porcupines morphing from a few muted colors to the most beautiful hues of reds and yellow; and as we ventured to Lake of the Clouds for what was to be one of my most memorable trips to Lake Superior, I believed that beauties like these would surely remain protected for as long as there were people to see.  With the upcoming tax bill, I wonder.

In the morning of our trip to Pictured Rocks out of Munising all was clear and calm on Lake Superior. It was not until we were almost half way into our boat tour of the shore that the lake turned from a glassy surface to a churning tub of foamy water as my friend and I continued to take photos of the shore. Sensibly, the rest of the passengers sat below with the captain and his crew.  It may not have been wise, but we were lost in the moment and the beauty.

Tonight, the Senate will vote on a tax bill that will transfer dollars in the trillions from the poorest of us to the richest of us.  It will also open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to exploitation, endanger the support we have in this country for mothers, children, the working middle class and especially those with children and who are too poor to itemize.

They say that when the rich people and corporations, who will benefit most, get their tax breaks, this will cause them to become the most charitable of sorts.  They say that these corporations will throw caution to the wind and let their money trickle down out of their hands into better paying jobs and more of them, bigger benefits for the poor and more and better opportunities for all in essence.  These poor over-taxed corporations will now have extra money to do good it seems.

Not too surprisingly, most of us won’t be waiting for this to happen. It seems, jaded from past tax breaks that never loosened the grip of these sorts before, we will probably be busy just trying to decide where to spend the few dollars that remain split between food, medical and various frivolous expenditures like transportation and child care, education and, if we are very lucky, a few trips to see such places as our National Parks, that is, before they too, belong to only the richest of us.

Looking into the cold waters of Lake Superior in an approaching gale did not elicit the same fear I have today on the eve of this impending disaster.

May we find wiser men and women to steer our course in the elections ahead.

An Open Letter to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton

The watersheds of the Mississippi, the Rainy River and the Great Lakes have their source in northern Minnesota, particularly in the Laurentian highlands of the Arrowhead, a wilderness that knows few equals in this regard.  Minnesota citizens, then, have a global responsibility to preserve this vital, rare and important aquifer from exploitation.

For over one hundred years, the state of Minnesota has condoned mining in the Laurentian Divide.  For over one hundred years the Missississippi and the St Louis Rivers, the Great Lakes and the Rainy River watershed have suffered from our failure to see the significance of these waters.  Elevated levels of lead and mercury … not including acid rain from the coal-fired plants supporting mining operations, smelters and other correlated equipment have done their part to interfere with vital natural processes.  Have we learned from our past mistakes?

In spite of this over one-hundred year history of mining in Minnesota and the correlated air and water pollution, failed infrastructure and inadequate protections, the state continues to promote mining activity.  Desperate measures to sustain an industry that will fail, that will pollute vital water reserves, where there can be no adequate protections in this water rich area, in an ecology that has no precedent on Earth, will serve no one in the long term.

Copper mining will destroy our water resources and our one of a kind wilderness in Northern Minnesota.  I was disappointed to have read that you support the NorthMet Project.

Sincerely,

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

 

aquifers surrounding the Babbitt area where Poymet wants to build a copper mine
aquifers surrounding the Babbitt area where Poymet wants to build a copper mine

 

Link to articles on arterutan concerning copper mining in the Arrowhead:

Arrowhead Aquifers and the Hill of Three Waters

Arterutan site link to other content on the Northmet Project

 

 

 

What price wilderness? Ask your reps to vote no on HR 3115.

Superior National Forest’s land exchange with Polymet effectively trades wilderness mandated for protection into the hands of the copper mining industry, one of the most polluting industries known to man.  The question comes up:

What price this northeastern Minnesota wilderness at the headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes and at the heart of three of the greatest waterways in the North American continent?

The proponents of this bad deal will tell you that these wilderness lands are not “productive” and that this exchange will benefit the school children in the trade or some such …. that there will be hundreds of jobs, that the lands received by the NSFS in the swap are much more contiguous and will allow better management of forest resources, give greater access, more financial benefit and so on ….

Will any greater access, the amount of jobs from mining and “productivity” pay for the pollution of this valuable resource, our waters, for hundreds of years?  Since one of the insidious products of copper sulfide mining is bio-available mercury, how will school children profit from this; and how does one” clean up” the damage?

I wonder.  Is money and profitability the only statistic of prime importance on a balance sheet?  If so, then what of clean water, clean air, the health of our plant and animal life, the mitochondria, the fungus and the insects and birds?  Let’s consider the health of our children if not our own.  What is the price of a child’s life, the price of wilderness?  We are not only trading lands in this swap.  It is much deeper and much more damning than this.

Money will not give us the things we need in the long haul … and our children will benefit far better from clean water.  Wilderness is our filter, it is literally our blood and our bone, it is our base.  Whatever benefits wilderness benefits us.  Copper sulfide mining is not one of these.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/3115/text

 

What would Sigurd say?

 

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Sigurd F Olson believed that beauty could be destroyed by a sound or a thought.  He spent his life championing protection of all wilderness, in particular the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area.  He lived in Ely, Minnesota and built a cabin on Burntside Lake where he meditated and found peace.  He knew that the appreciation of beauty was love at its essence, a profound appreciation of wilderness; and beauty, a necessity for our survival.

In northern Minnesota spans the wilderness he held so dear; and he lived his life in appreciation of wilderness through his writings and his advocacy.  He helped spare the BWCA from an onslaught of interests that would have destroyed it through the construction of roads, permits for motor boats, planes and eventual development. Would he have failed to stand up to copper mining interests?

As Minnesotans and stewards of the Arrowhead, at heart of three of the greatest river systems in North America, we are on a precipice.  What greater security is there than wilderness, clean water and air, the beauty and the silence of untouched wild areas?  International interests, determined to mine copper in the big Stoney, the great Minnesota Arrowhead, seek permission to do so.  Should we open this Pandora’s Box at any price?

Once copper sulfide mining has begun, the entire region, by precedent, will succumb to other like-mines in and surrounding the BWCAW, which lies on this prospect, that of the Duluth Gabbro Complex or the big Stoney.  There are already over a thousand prospecting holes, which have been drilled at the boundary of the BWCAW and along Kawishiwi River and Birch Lake to date.

Estimations through computer modeling have determined that 20 years of the proposed Polymet mine would destroy at minimum 912.5 acres of irreplaceable wetlands at the mining site alone, and as a consequence flora and fauna dependent on these waters, leaving a toxic environment for hundreds of years, perhaps into perpetuity.  The boundaries unknown.

Consider that the St Louis watershed consists of 3,696 square miles of mostly open wetlands and high quality habitat for plants and animals… including, as an example, the home of “100 Mile Swamp” between the two watersheds of Embarrass and Partridge rivers .  St Louis River’s headwaters are located at Seven Beavers Lake near the proposed Hoyt Lakes processing plant and a few miles south of the mining site in corporate Babbitt.  It’s headwaters flow for 179 miles before becoming a 12,000-acre freshwater estuary near Lake Superior, where it enters the body of the Great Lakes.

The mine site will be located in Babbitt, which hosts both the St Louis River watershed and the Rainy River watershed.  Can we be assured that the water in contact with waste rock there and therefore, discharge of sulfuric acid and other contaminants will not be shed into the Rainy River Basin which contains the BWCAW, Voyageurs National Park, Vermilion Lake and River, Crane Lake and others?

The processing center, also, is located in a complicated geological area of the Laurentian Divide at Hoyt Lakes.  The Embarrass River and the Partridge River on either side of this Divide will be affected.  In addition, the Vermilion River watershed is adjacent to the Embarrass River watershed on the north.  What long term effects will be seen here as well?  This is one of many unknowns.

I feel certain that Sigurd Olson would have stood up to copper mining interests.  He would have stood up to interests that threaten to destroy the wilderness of northern Minnesota.  He spoke plainly and with an understanding that the battle goes on forever and that we must all have a hand in protecting wilderness.

Through blasting, transportation corridors, energy needs like the coal fired plant in Silver Bay, water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution … what will be left of this wilderness that we now know as the north woods of Minnesota?  The smallest creatures, insects, fungus, flora, fauna will be poisoned by these mines and this will affect the larger creatures that depend upon them, like birds, deer, wolves, lynx, creatures great and small.

Polymet alone will be applying for over 20 permits.  Included in these are “water appropriation permits”, which is a benign way of saying water mining permits, dam safety permitting, permits for taking endangered species and others needed to make this mine palatable.

For our national security, for the health of this planet, big Stoney of the “mother of waters”, Lake Superior, should be considered of far greater importance than any short term gains that may be had through mining this precious and priceless natural resource.  Please let the National Forest Service, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Bureau of Land Management know that you do not want the St Louis River watershed and the Great Lakes to serve as a conduit for wastewater from a copper sulfide mine in the Arrowhead.

There are no guarantees but this, that water will find its way to the sea through our Great Lakes from these proposed mining operations.  Are we prepared for the consequences? The health of this planet may be determined by our will to continue the fight.

 

 

 

 

Comment on dam safety permit applications for Polymet by October 16, 2017

Dear Commissioner Landwehr:

Re: NorthMet Dam Safety

I am writing to express my concerns about the recently released dam safety permits for the PolyMet Mine. There are insurmountable problems associated with these permits and the proposals made by Polymet, a company that has never operated a mine before and will not use the newest technology recommended by your agency’s contractors.

It is common knowledge that these earthen dams are unsafe and cannot, in all truth, be guaranteed to hold up over time, especially the hundreds of years that they will be expected to endure.  They will eventually fail and release toxic sludge and pollution into the watershed below, a watershed without precedent, affecting communities and structures downstream to the Lake Superior basin and possibly into the Rainy River watershed.

The DNR is tasked to protect our resources for the benefit of Minnesotans.  Does the DNR do this by permitting a private for-profit copper sulfide mine, the NorthMet project, to use a dam for its storage of toxic sludge and tailings that has weakened over the 40+ years of its life already, known to leak into the aquifer sending toxic waste downstream and into wetlands surrounding the area?  What can be expected after 500 years?

Please say no to these dam safety permits and send an undeniable message to Minnesotans, who by the majority of comments do not want this toxic and hazardous project polluting our northern waters and ecosystem.

 

Sincerely,

Anita Suzanne Dedman-Tillemans

October 12, 2017

Do not allow the EPA to withdraw the proposed 404(c) protections for Bristol Bay … Please make your comments by October 17, 2017

Comment submitted October 12, 2017:

Like a beacon, under scrutiny for mining of copper resources, stands the Bristol Bay area.  For thousands of years, supporting the long term health of communities, this area has been and continues to be a rich natural resource for fish and wildlife, including one of the richest salmon spawning grounds in the world.  This proposal will remove the Proposed Determination of the US Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 Pursuant to Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act Pebble Deposit Area, Southwest Alaska (July 2014), which would have served to protect this watershed from exploitation and destructive practices; while the Pebble Limited Partnership, seeking private profit in a relatively short term, tells us that the area is depressed and people need jobs.  This, they tell us, even though the jobs will be gone when the boom is over and the lands and waters fouled forever.

The associated earthen dam alone, which will be expected to hold toxic sludge and tailings byproducts from copper sulfide mining, into perpetuity, could not stand the test of time in this ecologically fragile area located in an earthquake zone.   In addition, repercussions from an onslaught of torrential rains and weather conditions over time associated with a changing climate can be guaranteed.  A failed dam would be tragic enough, but this does not preclude ongoing degradation during construction, operation and maintenance from blasting, transportation corridors, dewatering, dispersal of contaminants into the watershed, noise pollution and air pollution in the midst of a pristine invaluable natural environment.  Fifteen years of research and study into a copper sulfide mine’s possible effects in this sensitive area have only made the proposed mine more toxic.

Copper-sulfide mining in the Bristol Bay watershed would be devastating on our fresh water resources, the health of communities who depend on this watershed, the flora, fauna, unspoiled lakes like Lake Iliamna, the long term profitability and viability of world class salmon and sports fishing, tourism and natural habitats.  As if these things were not enough, how does monetary profit compare to true wealth?  Do we choose short term boom and bust economies over the health of our planet?  What is true wealth but an environment like that in the Bristol Bay watershed; and who in their right mind would give this up for any amount of financial gain?  This watershed would be changed forever by permitting any copper sulfide mine to operate within its boundaries.

I formally and respectfully request that the proposal herewith to withdraw proposed 404(c) protections for the Bristol Bay area be denied.  The withdrawal legalese found under the name “Proposed Determination to Restrict Use of Area as Disposal Site: Pebble Deposit Area, Southwest Alaska; Proposed Withdrawal” will allow the permitting process for this mine to begin, an outcome that we cannot sanction for the sake of future generations who depend upon decisions we make today.

 

Anita Suzanne Dedman-Tillemans

October 12, 2017

on Beauty …

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.

What is morality but good stewardship, a system 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 the beauty of the spheres, moment to moment.

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

 

 

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 worst 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:

MPCA’s NorthMet Project Webpage

DNR’s NorthMet Comment Portal

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.

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.

 

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.

 

Devil’s Kettle Falls: Has the mystery been solved?

It has long mystified many … just where some of the water from one of the dual falls of Devil’s Kettle on the Brule emerged after disappearing into a pothole.  Sticks, many tossed, have not shown up downstream; and so, the tales persisted and curiosity was piqued.

Hydrologists’ tests measuring flow still show some disparity between the charge and emerging waters, 2 cubic feet per second approximately; and, as a consequence, this fall, a fluorescent dye will be poured into Devil’s Kettle’s pothole to see where this emerges downstream.

The “big stoney” and the Duluth Complex have formed over billions of years and many upheavals; and so the surface and the underlying ground and aquifers are very complicated mixes of many formations.

aquifers surrounding the Babbitt area where Poymet wants to build a copper mine
aquifers surrounding the Babbitt area where Poymet wants to build a copper mine

More reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_Minnesota

http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mcvmagazine/issues/2017/mar-apr/devils-kettle-mystery.html

 

What does wealth mean to you?

 

I had long ago decided to be happy … but got distracted along the way by so many things that occurred to cloud the issue, the issue of living honestly and with integrity … finding joy as a child would, naturally.

One cannot be happy without this and there is no wealth without it either.  Where do you find your joy?

To be satisfied with what one has; that is wealth.  As long as one sorely needs a certain additional amount, that man isn’t rich.

Mark Twain

In the Shelter of a Tree

fall_walk_painting

One can view this house on the way to Silver Lake by bus.  The tree on its east, now gone, was a reminder of the elms that stood majestically along the boulevards in Minneapolis over 45 years ago.  These trees have been taken down in great numbers … because, it seems, it was more cost effective to lumber them than to save them.

Trees are money of course.  Never mind that they harbor and nourish wildlife, birds of all kinds and others, including humans, that require the shelter, the food, the shade, breadth and breath of an old tree.

Heart-sick watching these giants being harvested in the city of Minneapolis … to make room for more big box houses and parking lots, water parks, roads, sidewalks, and for pulp, mulch, or table tops and doors.

When will we, as a society, learn that old growth trees are essential … that we need clean air … clean water … and earth that is growing?  In this regard, trees are vital.  Money will not provide this. We will continue to see species extermination until this is learned in earnest throughout the whole of human society.

Do we own our technology, or does it own us?  Do we own our possessions, or do they own us?  Will we be happier with bigger houses and fancier cars, trips to somewhere else when we have no true investment in the places we live? Better not to grow any investment if it means destroying our base and, with it, the living legacy of our old trees.

I miss the canopy that stood over the boulevards in Minneapolis when I arrived almost 50 years ago … replaced by saplings, which are being trimmed regularly to optimize board feet when harvested. The arbor that arched over our streets cannot be replaced in an entire lifetime.  What kind of world are we making on our way to making money?

 

DNR Plans to Sell Mineral Leases in Northern Minnesota Covering Approximately 195,324 Acres

Moose in the Arrowhead ... already affected by global warming
Moose in the Arrowhead … already affected by global warming

The Department of Natural Resources plans to hold a sale of state-owned non-ferrous metallic mineral leases in Beltrami, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake of the Woods and St Louis counties.  This acreage totals about 195,324 acres.

The notice was published today in the EQB Monitor and State Register, Monday, Jan. 30.  For information on the sale and solicited public comments, please view the DNR’s website and the link below:

State Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Leasing Public Lease Sale

At the recent water summit in Morris, Minnesota, Governor Dayton reported that 40% of the water in Minnesota is unfit for human recreation, in some areas this percent is over 90%.  In the Gulf of Mexico, there is an area of over 120 miles where there is no life … a dead zone, my words not his.  He made the point that, in effect, what we do with our water is everyone’s business.  So true.

It is right and good that we work to protect our waters by educating the public on conservation and clean up measures.  The most effective and best real long term measure, though, would be to stop pollution at the source..  Do we accomplish this by selling the very land and waters that need protection to those who would exploit it?

These leases are being sold now for exploration and this means more intrusions into an already endangered aquifer. The DNR would not sell leases if there was no intent to grant mining permits.  Twin Metals and Polymet are only two interests that seek to mine for copper in these invaluable northern aquifers.

In effect, by selling mineral leases at the source of the Rainy River, the Mississippi or the Great Lakes, and linking money made from any of these leases to public education, the state of Minnesota creates a dichotomy, since mining of these water reserves endangers the future of the intended beneficiaries.  Better yet, invest in equitable education by creating the kind of environment with a future in it.

MPCA / Minnesota’s Imperiled Waters List 2016

In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.

– Iroquois Maxim (circa 1700-1800)

 

 

Paper Birch as a Litmus Test

Paper Birch, like a litmus test, react to their surroundings, as pollution from the coal-fired plant in Silver Bay has proven over the past forty plus years.  Along the north shore of Minnesota, where paper birch and mountain ash bowed their heads in this northern region for centuries, they are now dead and dying.

Some would like you to believe that the cause for this mass dying-off of birch in the north country was drought … or, even earthworms; but anyone who has seen the cause and the effect in real time can testify to the truth.

Drought is not new and neither are earthworms, not as the coal-fired plant in Silver Bay and mining, relative newcomers to this ancient land. It would do us all well to remember as the native Americans understood:

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset. – Blackfoot

“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”

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Forest Service Reneges on its responsibility to protect our waters in lands entrusted to their care …

As of this past week the Forest Service of the United States has issued a decision agreeing to the land exchanges that Polymet will need to mine copper in lands that the USFS had been tasked to protect, at the headwaters of the Great Lakes and water ways on the border of the BWCAW.  I am including a link below to this monumental decision, which, in effect, betrays the public trust giving public lands in the exchange for the private interests of a multi-national corporation.

Forest Service’s ROD on Land Exchange

The process will require permits allowing degradation of air and water quality and another comment period.  It will also, at times, require Polymet to get a permit to take endangered species.  One reason that the  timber wolf may have been taken off of the “endangered species” list, among other equally expedient reasons.

I include links to the status of some of these required permits:

Status and submissions for Polymet’s air quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s water quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s request for 401 certification (NorthMet Project)

How did this prospect ever get a start?

Supreme Court of Minnesota decides that a ballot initiative on minimum-wage is the sole discretion of the Minneapolis City Council:

The Supremacy Clause of our United States Constitution (Article VI, Clause 2) established the Constitution as supreme law of the land, becoming the cornerstone of our political structure.  It established that no matter what the federal government or states wish to do the laws made would have to comply with the Constitution.

In deciding A16-1367 , did the Supreme Court of Minnesota comply with the first amendment:

“Congress shall make no law … prohibiting the …  right of the people  … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

statue_sonnet_photo

 

A16-1367        Tyler Vasseur, et al., petitioners, Respondents, vs. City of Minneapolis, et al., Appellants, Ginny Gelms, in her capacity as Elections Manager, Hennepin County:

 

Michael O. Freeman, Hennepin County Attorney, Daniel P. Rogan, Senior Assistant County Attorney, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for respondent Ginny Gelms

“The district court erred in granting respondents’ petition pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 204B.44(a) (Supp. 2015), and directing the Minneapolis City Council to include a question regarding a proposed minimum-wage amendment to the Minneapolis City Charter on the ballot for the general election because the City Charter vests general legislative authority solely in the City Council.”


Acting Justices, Judge Randolph W. Peterson and Louise Dovre Bjorkman.

(Took no part, Justices David R. Stras, David L. Lillehaug, Margaret H. Chutich and Anne K. McKeig)

In conclusion, the Mn Supreme Court decided that:

 “Minneapolis residents are not permitted to directly implement legislation by petition” that their elected representatives, “so far, have refused to” pursue), rev. denied (Minn. Aug. 25, 2005).5

 Is it time for an amendment to the Minneapolis city charter?

MPCA seeks comments through December 16, 2016 on Minntac draft permit

The MPCA will take comments through Dec. 16 on a draft permit under which U.S. Steel’s Minntac Iron Ore Operations will be allowed to continue operations near Mountain Iron in northern Minnesota.  No permit has been reissued since the original of 1987 expired in 1992 and this plant began operations in 1967, before the federal Clean Water Act was enacted.

After reviewing the history of Minntac Iron Ore Operations, one is drawn to the fact that water pollution from tailings ponds is forever and the question of how many more can we allow, if any?  Just like the issue of waste from nuclear power plants, isn’t it time to draw a line?

Comments will be accepted in writing and should be addressed to: Erik Smith, MPCA, 520 Lafayette Rd. North,St. Paul, MN 55155 or erik.smith@state.mn.us.

Include a statement about your interest in the draft permit, what action that you would like MPCA to take, and your reasons for supporting the position you hold.

For more information see:

https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/Draft%20Permit%20-%20MN0057207%20-%202016.pdf

https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/wq-wwprm1-28.pdf

http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/11/09/environmentalists-sue-state-over-minntac-water-permit

http://www.startribune.com/state-takes-steps-to-manage-minntac-water-pollution/401379195/

http://www.startribune.com/lawsuit-alleges-lax-regulation-of-major-minnesota-taconite-mine/400556811/

Indian Mounds Park

GEOLOGY OF MINNESOTA AT THE MOUNDS (AS DESCRIBED IN A PLAQUE ON THE BLUFFS ABOVE THE MISSISSIPPI) indian_mounds_plaque THIS POINT COMMANDS A VIEW OF ONE OF THE GREAT WATER COURSES OF NORTH AMERICA.  THE STREAM WHICH ONCE FILLED THIS VALLEY NAMED THE RIVER WARREN WAS LARGER THAN ANY RIVER ON THE CONTINENT TODAY. DURING THE PAST MILLION YEARS MINNESOTA HAS BEEN PARTLY COVERED BY GLACIERS AT LEAST 4 TIMES. THE SHORT SUMMERS AND LONG WINTERS OF THE GREAT AGES CAUSED AN ACCUMULATION OF SNOW AND ICE TO A THICKNESS OF SEVERAL THOUSAND FEET. AS THE CLIMATE MODERATED AND GLACIATION CAME TO AN END ENORMOUS QUANTITIES OF WATER WERE RELEASED TO FLOW IN RIVERS AWAY FROM THE ICE FIELD.  THE VALLEY OF THE MISSISSIPPI FROM THIS POINT WAS ERODED BY SUCH A STREAM ABOUT 2000 YEARS AGO SCOURED TO A DEPTH OF 100 FEET BELOW THE PRESENT RIVER SURFACE. THE VALLEY WAS LATER FILLED BY SAND AND GRAVEL AS THE FORCE OF THE TORRENT SUBSIDED.

 

Migizi, gichi-manidoo

It was believed by the Native Americans that eagles served as messengers between humans and the Creator, a spiritual messenger and symbol of courage and truth and, to some, the embodiment of the Great Spirit.  To almost every Indian Nation, the eagle is sacred.

As one Indian legend tells it, a thundercloud appeared on the horizon when the Earth was created, descending upon the tree tops in thunder and lightning; and as the mists cleared , an eagle sat perched upon the highest branch. Gliding slowly from his perch, extending his talons to the ground, he became a man … and so the spiritual representation of eagles as messengers.

As Indian summer arrived this month in beautiful color along the Mississippi River bluffs, we spotted this bald eagle in a solitary old tree over the site of “wakon-teebe”, observing him for quite a while, well aware of our presence, until his descent to the ground out of our view.

On the Bluffs over Wakon-teebe

st_paul_overlook_2016

The pictured overlook stands on the bluffs above a cave that the Indians named wakon-teebe, known by various names as Dwelling of the Great Spirit or Mystery, House of Spirits  and the Spirit House.  It contains a crystal pool fed by spring water that had reported flows of 25 gallons per minute and held ancient Indian hieroglyphs, until they were destroyed by railroad construction.  A shadow of the original visited by Jonathan Carver in 1766, this cave stands on the banks of the Mississippi in the bed of what was once the great river, Warren, which discharged glacial waters from the largest lake ever known, Lake Agassiz.

What stood thousands of years took relatively little time to desecrate.  St. Paul & Chicago Railroad condemned the strip of land along its river bank, dug it down and nearly destroyed it.  Most of what was carved away held the cave’s petroglyphs.  The entrance is now sealed by a steel door following habitation during the Great Depression, curiosity seekers and landscaping for public and private use, all of which could not help to change the essence of what it was for thousands of years to the Native Americans.  The Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary is now home to this “spirit cave” and there have been improvements in the surrounding park.

The bluffs above wakon-teebe, designated Indian Mounds Park, hold sacred burial mounds many of which have been destroyed for expediency.  Only six were spared of at least 37 known in the area, to be registered as historic preservation sites.

At the overlook above the cave, garbage was strewn everywhere, the only two garbage cans, overflowing … plastic bags, pop cans, trash in abundance down the side of this bluff.  Votive candles on the stone walls below a solitary old tree testified to the still sacred nature of this place, where a vigilant bald eagle perched above the river valley.

Views from the bluffs are breathtaking and reveal the immensity of this river valley, filled now with artifacts of our “progress” — an airport, trains and tracks, barges and, among other things, Pigs Eye Waste Treatment Plant, while the Great Spirit has, evidently, been evicted and locked out, perhaps perched in the old tree above the cave.

The ironies still amaze and befuddle as mankind’s journey to full cognition remains, seemingly, elusive.

Setting Precedent / The Danger of Copper Mining at the headwaters of the Great Lakes

The state of Minnesota made a mistake in the late 1800’s by permitting a mine at the Hill of Three Waters in what is now known as the Hull Rust Mine.  By diverting the attention away from the actual fountainhead of the Mississippi so that mines could be established, and declaring the “official” head at Lake Itasca, a 2 mile square lake in the far west of the state, this made mining possible on the Iron Range; and has been a primary cause of pollution in the great Mississippi River and its wetlands at the source.  It has also set precedent for more mining in the highlands of the Laurentian Divide, the primary recharge source for three great rivers of the world, that of the Mississippi River, Rainy River and the St Louis River (extreme headwaters of the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway).  Now we stand to see another precedent set, one for copper mining.

DNR approval of the FEIS for NorthMet in March 2016, and subsequent opening for Polymet to proceed with applications for permits has opened the potential of a floodgate of pollution from copper mining in one of the most water rich and water dependent ecosystems in the North American continent, at the headwaters of three great rivers ….  There is, literally, no other place like it- because of this.

Links to information on the NorthMet Project in Northern Minnesota

If these permits are approved, allowing for a reduction in air and water quality and destruction of wetlands just south and along the border of the BWCAW, it will open the door to United States Forest Service approval of the land exchange, an exchange that Polymet cannot do without.

If the USFS approves the land exchange, this would be forfeiting its authority to mining interests over lands that were set aside for protection. The Forest Service would be trading, not only lands, but a trust that these ecosystems would be protected from exploitation for generations to come.

Polymet will be mining water resources, destroying wetlands, by their own admission; and, in effect, degrading natural resources, flora and fauna, with its lease to continuously extract metals in an open-pit mine. They will be requiring permits to do all of this, including permits to take endangered species on lands that the Forest Service was given in trust.

In addition, this would help establish precedent that could facilitate more land exchanges of this type. By trading these lands, USFS would, essentially, be demonstrating a lack of will in exercising its authority and create a barter system that conflicts with the role as steward.  It would allow exploitation and cannot be reconciled with this public trust … water being their most sacred trust.

The entire state and beyond would pay the price.

Status and submissions for Polymet’s air quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s water quality permit (NorthMet Project)

Status and submissions for Polymet’s request for 401 certification (NorthMet Project)

Highlights of second quarter 2016 as reported by September 15, 2016

May sanity prevail.

Fruits of Fossil Fuel

We can all agree that the advent of fossil fuel extraction and use has changed our world.  What does this mean?

Benzene is found in the air from burning coal and oil, at gasoline service stations, and in motor vehicle exhaust.  Some effects from short term inhalation are impaired driving from dizziness and sleepiness, and unconsciousness (at high levels).  It is known to cause irritation to eye, skin, and respiratory tract as well as creating changes in the composition of red blood cells, increased incidence of leukemia, risks to the fetus in pregnancy among other toxic risks.  It is known by the EPA as a known human carcinogen for all routes of exposure.

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) and Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) are known to cause acid rain which affects our waterways and forests, destroying these natural environments ability to sustain life.

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/acid-rain-overview/

Petroleum Coke (Pet Coke): abundant toxins in heavy dust from bitumen: chromium, vanadium, sulfur, selenium … being used now in coal-fired power plants and emits 5-10 times more CO2 than coal.  Even so, it is excluded from most assessments of climate impact because it is considered a refinery byproduct.

Formaldehyde (from natural gas) a carcinogen with known links to leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancers, a potent allergen and DNA alterative, also contributes to ground-level ozone.  It is commonly used in fracking for which the industry does not report details of its use.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) an entire class of toxic chemicals which are known as carcinogens and genetic mutagens are endemic in the production of oil and gas. We can already see the effects on wildlife after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mercury, largest single source of airborne mercury emissions in the U.S is from coal-fired plants from and is known as a dangerous neurotoxin.   It will affect the brain development of a child, delaying walking and conversation, attention span … high doses in the womb and in infants can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness and blindness.  In adults it is known to affect a person’s ability to reproduce, can cause memory loss, numbness in the extremities ….

Silica Dust or crystalline silica (frac sand) is a carcinogen and breathing silica dust can lead to silicosis, which is a form of lung disease with no cure. Commonly used during fracking operations, each stage of the process requires hundreds of thousands of pounds of silica quartz–containing sand. Millions of pounds may be used for a single well.

Radon used is a colorless, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas which though it comes from a variety of natural sources, the fracking industry represents a significant new and increased source of radon exposure to millions of citizens. Radon is released into local groundwater and air during fracking operations. It also travels through pipelines to the point of use—be it a power plant or a home.

Hydrofluoric Acid (HF) / Hydrogen Fluoride from oil and gas production is one of the most dangerous acids known and can damage lungs, moving into deep tissue, including bone, where it causes cellular damage.  It can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

These are only 10 of the toxins attributed to the fossil fuel industry but there are other far reaching effects of oil, gas and coal production.

Greenhouse gas-induced climate change

Massive highway systems and traffic jams

War and increased Military, being one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuels

Loss of Wilderness

Pollution of the aquifers and air

Mountain-top removal

Earthquakes from fracking

Mining of water reserves

Species extinctions …

 

The automobile:  Could Henry Ford have imagined the long term results of widespread personal automobile use, the massive highway systems, the infrastructure to supply oil, pipelines through aquifers, offshore drilling and spills in marine ecosystems to supply an insatiable thirst for energy and wealth from its production, the danger to our air, water, foods and our health … the health of not only our species, but all others on Earth at stake?

Ford was a pacifist and believed that mass production of inexpensive goods coupled with high wages for workers would make life better for all. He believed that consumerism was a key to peace.  Has it been the answer?  Is money and access to all manner of disposable goods the panacea for what ails the human race? Are we all richer for having this kind of access?  The more money we have the more is spent … better yet to provide a life worth living to all in a fair and equitable world where money does not rule. Has material accumulation made us richer and created a peaceful world?  The results are obvious.

There is no end to this kind of consumption, because it never truly satisfies. While the renegade fossil fuel industry destroys sacred lands in North Dakota, the news media turns a blind eye and consumers head to the gas station to fill their tanks.

On the shore of the Olympic Peninsula’s rainforest

Cedar_driftwood_painting

We walked along the shore looking out over the Pacific Ocean, wandering around giant cedars that had drifted up along the shore … nature’s taking  …. and yet mankind continues to take so much more – clearing  mountaintops of ancient stands of cedars in the Olympic National Forest.  Giants felled, and man the so-called “conqueror”.

Was this path intended all along?  Civilizations have come and gone for much the same reasons; and we never seem to learn that these resources are finite.

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

Seems the only answer to this dilemma; and yet, where are we along that path?

Photos of Clearcutting on the Olympic Peninsula

Fall color?

To take a trip to look at the leaves, observe and enjoy the changing season perhaps might seem a distant and impractical use of limited time in a busy schedule, but don’t we all need this at some point in our lives?  Isn’t it a necessity to enjoy whatever color lights your path along the way? It has been said so many times that life is all about moments and that the best things in life are free.   In spite of this age tested advice, we have traveled too far away from true wealth, so that we can make a life that looks good on a balance sheet.

Too many people are living on a see-saw in a volatile financial market.  The “worst in us running the rest of us”.  As vested pensions were replaced by market driven portfolios, retirees, then, were chained to perpetual investment strategies at a time when enjoying the fall color might be warranted.  A lifetime of  paying into social security (double for baby boomers) and medicare, wall street retirement plans, insurance policies, mortgages and rents have left retirees wishing they could take that time. While young people with a lifetime of college debt ahead and low paying jobs, high rents and food costs are literally immersed in a world that sells everything but the things they need for happiness.

Perhaps we could all use a little color.

 

How long will the St Croix River remain wild?

interstate_park_fall

The St Croix River joins the Mississippi at Prescott, Wisconsin.  Its source is Upper St Croix Lake near Solon Springs, Wisconsin. Significant portions of this river were given protection under The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act along with seven other rivers and designated as a National Scenic Riverway in 1968.  It is now under threat of development.

By amending the 1968 Scenic Rivers Act, a new bridge was approved to replace the 85 year old lift bridge in Stillwater to connect Minnesota and Wisconsin at Hwy 36 near Oak Park Heights.  This,  in spite of protests from thousands, including the NPS and conservation groups like the Sierra Club.

This  four lane bridge will replace the two lane lift bridge for the majority of through traffic; and will naturally transport larger numbers of people over the St Croix River.  It will also, as a result, increase development along the river and change it forever … slated to open in 2017.

Wonder

It was a few fall seasons ago when I took a trip to Bemidji.  The walk took us through a canopy of maples in Bemidji State Park.  Where two trees met over the path, we stopped  to take photos.

It was not long afterward that a little boy came running through the leaves down the path and under the archway … lost in the golden maple undergrowth within the watchful eye of his mother, not far behind.

So few times in life do we enter into this kind of world, torn with the pressures of things to do and places to go; but beauty like this happens everywhere, and all we need do is notice … remembering, perhaps, that the most important things in our lives are framed in moments, moments when we were fully and joyously aware.

Bemidji Maples
Bemidji Maples

 

The danger of frac sand mining in southern Minnesota …

Perrot_State_Park

It was a new experience to see Perrot State Park.  A beautiful place along the Mississippi River.  And yet we were advised not to drink the water from the campground faucets ….

A few years back, with a friend, I drove south beyond Wabasha, along the Minnesota side of the Great River Road.  This should have been the growing season, full of life … flora and fauna … birds flying and sounding in the wetlands and, even so, there was utter silence in the middle of this day near the place where there are frack sand mining operations, operations that you cannot see from the road … though their presence is becoming more and more evident through the years.

How long will we allow corporations to profit from the destruction of our environment, the loss of water and air quality, the diminishing quality of life?  How long will it be before we experience a silent spring?