Archive for ‘Opinions’

December 3, 2017

Role call on a vote to suspend rules and pass the Superior National Forest Land Exchange Act

HR 3115 Roll Call votes 11/28/2017-7:07pm


How are we to reconcile the pollution of our waters with clean energy requirements?

Representative Nolan tells us that copper mining in the Arrowhead will be good for jobs and good for the environment.  Two arguments, it seems, that have weight in a society that values money above all else and gives short shrift to the fact that there are unresolved issues even with green technology, as with all new technologies.  The byproducts of our decisions today will remain after the jobs are gone.

Will we make the same mistakes that we made with the promise of nuclear energy?  Will we fail to manage the byproducts and waste any better?  Will we discount the dangers while we struggle to advance the benefits at all costs?  Fossil fuel as the primary source of energy is on the wane, for good reason; and alternative energy and its components are becoming profitable.  Will we give up the promise of green technology by ignoring the problems for the sake of profit and a quick fix?

An accounting is best made now, before we dive into making poor choices with utterly tragic consequences.  What more important than water?  We can live without the new technologies from precious metals and mining.  Can we live without potable water, jobs or no jobs?

The paths to new energy sources are being made now.  Will we fix a course that will eventually lead to a dead end as it has with nuclear energy?  Consider the disposal of batteries and the pollution from mining of “precious” metals for these technologies that will make “clean” energy a joke if it is not handled with care?

Avoiding these discussions by praising job creation and claiming that a mine in one of the most water dependent regions in the world will be good for the environment does not cut the mustard.  Passing a bill like HR 3115 will not make for a better world.

There are solutions in the making and possible solutions given time.  Consider recycling of metals already above ground, passive remedies, more efficient modes of use and reuse ….  Some of these solutions are not as profitable in the beginning, but may be far more in the end.  Consider those who will pay for poor decisions made today.

Will our best shot be to trade the vitality of our waters and our wilderness for short term profit?  Or will we finally take money out of the mix in order to make our best most important decisions.  Is this possible?

November 2, 2017

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.


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

November 1, 2017

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.


October 12, 2017

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.



Anita Suzanne Dedman-Tillemans

October 12, 2017

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

October 9, 2017

When Predators Rule

We are in a world of illusion in which words have become an important path by which the powerful rule.  These words should surprise no one … and yet, truth be told, most of us want to believe that our particular truth or illusion isthe truth” and so, believe what suits us.  As someone close to me once said, to paraphrase, “truth is variable.”  With this view, as the old saying goes, we will fall for anything.  Is this a problem or a necessity?

Is this what the cycle of life demands since everything, eventually, falls apart? Doing what seems to come naturally when predators rule may be impossible to avoid, the fear and ignorance that keeps us from seeing beyond the surface.  In order to survive, though, isn’t it necessary that we conquer those fears that keep us in the dark?

Creative to a point, we may find solutions to immediate needs; but do we see beyond to a broader and more enduring perspective? Do we need to?  Will we be capable of going beyond our own immediate, visceral needs to a higher and more meaningful way of living?  Time it seems will tell.

I wonder what lies below the surface of our present dilemmas and apparent societal quandries? What might be possible if we stop believing, out of convenience, that truth is relative?

September 24, 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.

September 20, 2017

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)

August 30, 2017

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.

April 19, 2017

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.


April 7, 2017

America Incorporated or American Democracy?

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

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

May love prevail in this country.


March 18, 2017

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.
March 17, 2017



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.


February 13, 2017

In the Shelter of a Tree


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?


November 28, 2016

Equal Rights Means Equity in Education

anita / childhood / SA / photo

Policy Brief from the OECD 2008
November 25, 2016

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.”



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?

November 7, 2016

On the Bluffs over Wakon-teebe


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.

October 29, 2016

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.

October 24, 2016

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.

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.

October 23, 2016

On the shore of the Olympic Peninsula’s rainforest


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

October 17, 2016

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.


September 20, 2016

On Simplicity

Thoreau did not live to be very old and, even so, what profound sentiments filled his relatively short life.  I took this picture of a white pine at its prime and photoshopped the image to get this effect, adding the quote from HDT below:

In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.
Henry David Thoreau
September 20, 2016

The danger of frac sand mining in southern Minnesota …


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?


September 17, 2016

Black Rhino – In Memoriam?

Black Rhino

Black Rhino

August 4, 2016

The Looming Prospect of Copper Mining in the Uplands of Minnesota’s Water Legacy …


As I read the continuing saga of Polymet and it’s efforts to mine copper in the northern woods of Minnesota, I remember the over-40 years since this abominable prospect first showed its ugly head … a distant cry that seemed unfathomable, impossible.

It has been almost 50 years since my coming to Minnesota and since I saw this land of 10,000 lakes and the “mother of waters” for the first time, Lake Superior, a dream, an unimaginable, unbelievable natural wonder.  Naive and in love with this beautiful land, I could never imagine that we would poison the air and water, Minnesota’s blue-sky lakes and waterfalls, streams and wetlands with the castoffs of the mining industry and the coal burning plants used to support the mining process; but, this is what we have done.  Now we know what pollution can do.

Do we stand up and say “no more”?  Have we said to Polymet … “don’t even consider this prospect”?  No.  Through the Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota has sold the prospect of more mining, more lumbering, more degradation .. all for the sake of financial gain in a short term view.

But what of the long term?  We await the deciding. After many years of NO from the people in Minnesota, the DNR, the US Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers still hold the prospect over our heads.  How long does it take to say NO?


July 22, 2016

A Man of His Word

No matter what happens at the Democratic Convention, Senator Bernie Sanders’ run for the Presidency has deepened our awareness of politics in the United States of America.  We’ve seen biases in the media, state primaries, the falsification of our democratic process by allowing super delegates and corporate money into the process giving unfair advantage and influence, allowing multiple votes for officials and corporations. Bernie’s  campaign has been an example of what we need, men and women of their word who work for their electorate and do not take money from lobbyists and corporate interests.

By all that is intelligent and rational, politics as usual needs to change, because bribery by any other name is still bribery and should be illegal.  Campaign finance reform and laws concerning lobbyists need to be implemented to get money out of politics.  Our public airwaves belong to the public, not to corporations.  Elections need paper ballots that can be counted and validated, not touch screens and corruptible systems …. there is so much work to do.

We are still in the process of selecting the Democratic candidate for President of these United States and th Democratic Convention will begin next week on July 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, PA.  The 2016 Party Platform has been posted online and our work has only just begun … This document is ready for public input and submitted by the 437 DNC members who are also superdelegates.

There are 719 superdelegates in all, and since it serves a democracy to have an open and a fair election process, I have made a sort of this  in alphabetical order with last name first sorted according to preference:

Hillary Clinton, OMalley, Bernie Sanders and Uncommitted

Email contact when available to me during this sort has been given.  Let your preferences be known with respect, the only way to make a positive change.

For the sake of our democracy.


July 15, 2016

For Love is Lord of All …


Life is fatal. It is not a question that we all die … but how we live.

To live is to love with a sense of community … since no one lives without the kindness and good will of others on some level. Happiness and survival, then, are linked by love; and health, gained by living in a mutual effort to make our lives as rich and meaningful as is possible in this very short time on Earth … leaving a better place for our children.

When we see others suffering, as a consequence, it is our family that we see suffering, since we are all part of this fabric of life, and our understanding, deep-rooted and wordless.  Clean food, water and air are basic. To destroy these things for the profit of a few is not healthy and it is, in fact, a sign of dysfunction on a global scale and profoundly disturbing.

What will we do about the assault on the health of this planet? Are we working fast enough and diligently enough to install the systems necessary for peaceful coexistence? Building the resources for education of our children, all children, so that our species will evolve to a higher plain?

Time will tell. Will we have enough of it before our life as a species runs its course?

For the sake of our beautiful planet.


July 11, 2016

Loss of Innocents: The Politics of Fear and the Use of Deadly Force

Observing events of the past week, and in a quandary over the number of gunshots used in many of the police motivated killings, I wonder about over-the-top use of force in these cases.  Any officer, especially those given the responsibility of carrying guns, should be emotionally mature, competent, and trained in non-lethal methods of engagement, as a priority.  Even when a first bullet might be motivated by the expectation of lethal force, what can be the motivation for a second, third, fourth, and fifth?

In the cases of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, these were innocent victims, victims who cooperated with police to their demise.  What does this teach a wary public when there is no accountability, and how does this benefit the men and women in blue who use reason and apply caution in their handling of dangerous situations?  We are all put in danger.  Fear and loathing turn the ethos of “serve and protect” into a farce and make a good police officer’s job even harder, with hair-trigger reactions on all sides.

What must be done to move our system toward sustainable and positive outcomes in these situations can only be done through police training and education where prejudice and ignorance have no place.  The harm has already been done when we place guns in the hands of police officers who do not know how to apply respect and compassion with listening skills.  We do not have a problem with “super-predators” in our black communities any more so than in our white communities and our institutions, institutions that marginalize the powerless and create desperate men and women on all sides … men and women who will do what they think necessary, having few options, out of fear, to do what is right.

The shootings of Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling, and Philando Castile this past week by police, and those of police officers Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Sergeant Michael Smith, Sr CPL Lorne Ahrens  in Dallas, who were protecting and serving community members in a peaceful protest, prove this point.  Observe the politics of fear in the use of deadly force where fear and loathing beget violence, and violence begets more violence, a very old story.  Three innocent black men were shot dead by police, police who are now on paid leave or at a desk job (none are in jail); while the black man, Micah Xavier Johnson, who shot police is dead – killed by a bomb, no less.  All of these killings were the product of fear and loathing, a failure in our culture to deal with the heart of injustice.

What can be done to change this pattern of violence in America today?  Certainly not more violence; because violence comes in many guises – not the least of which is social.  The culture needs to change.  Rather than a militarized police force with additional “troops” and equipment, perhaps institutional evolution motivated by kindness and truth … since the first thing sacrificed in these deadly encounters is compassion; and in the aftermath, truth.

July 8, 2016

Philando Castile


Since the killing of Mike Brown, there has been an awakening across this country and the police force needs a revamping in our communities with accountability to a citizens’ board of review.  No innocent should be handled in the way that Philando Castile was handled by police.

In spite of the odds, young people of color are making a difference with very real courage.  In spite of the danger, they are willing to stand up to injustice.  In spite of a system that works to deny them equal opportunity, many are managing to live a life as Philando Castile, doing great good.

We cannot accept the status quo because we all lose when we lose souls like these.

July 5, 2016

Saplings, a canopy do not make.

In forest ecology, a canopy defined by the upper layer of all forests is a habitat zone formed by mature crowns of trees and containing a diverse system of organisms in a healthy ecosystem. It is a cover, and an environment so different than one without.

In terms of many urban areas, this canopy is quickly being destroyed in the name of “healthy forest” initiatives and for urban development, while saplings are given the impossible task of “replacing” what they cannot replace.

  • Faced with higher temperatures annually, middle-aged trees, as well as saplings are dying from drought. With less tree cover and more concrete, more heat, a vicious cycle of deforestation ensues and escalates.  Our canopy in Minneapolis, at less than 32 percent, continues to diminish.
  • Much wood is being used for energy purposes and for other commercial interests; so, through short-sighted practices and views, these mature trees become worth more dead than alive.
  • Rather than divert a road, create a sustainable alternative, short term development projects, new over-sized homes and housing developments  apply expediency over sanity.  It takes time to treat a pattern, to water a tree and keep it free from disease and pests.  It costs money too, sometimes.
  • Suffice to say, with less water and higher temperatures, a tree has no stamina to fight disease and infestations.  It certainly cannot survive a chain saw aimed at its destruction.  Witness the wholesale destruction of mature ash trees along one boulevard after another in Minneapolis.
  • Public policies that prioritize cutting down healthy trees from fear of infestation or disease, rather than watering and wise tree care, replace our canopy with saplings that have even less prospect of survival.

A canopy of mature trees, some that have stood for one hundred or more years cannot be replaced by saplings, no matter how many we plant.  Management practices  need to change to a holistic approach, understanding that all things, even emerald ash borer, has its place in this system.  Insecticides and removal should be emergency management options only.  Wouldn’t it be better to maintain a healthy forest, one that is managed long term to retain its canopy, with an urban forest management system that has teeth?

Elms that were cared for survived Dutch Elm disease.

Elms that were cared for survived Dutch Elm disease.



June 24, 2016

Leave the trees, please.

tree_3003On my walk this morning through a neighborhood of old trees, some over a hundred years old, I headed through one block where the canopy covers like a rain forest and cools like a mountain stream.  As I approached, unmistakable sounds of heavy equipment and saws broke the silence.

Another one and a half story home, built prewar, sold to be replaced with the newest rage, cathedral ceilings and marble; so the old white oak tree in its yard, towering over 80 feet above, was trimmed and removed … no replacement possible.  An old story where money matters most.

Old trees, more than commodities, more than board feet, outlast the structures that replace them, but for the next fad or money making development on horizon, which always seems to be of more consequence than these towering testaments to life.  Never mind the hundreds of species that depend on a tree of this size.  Never mind that it will take another hundred years to replace.  Never mind the shade and the oxygen it supplies.  Never mind the peace and tranquility it provides, the forests and the streams that owe their existence to these monuments!

This old tree could have lived another hundred years providing shade and shelter for so many.  It was not to be, though; because, you see, somebody needed to make money and that old tree was in the way.  Mankind must have his cathedral ceilings to replace the true cathedrals in nature, while millions of trees die from drought in California, and millions more from short-sighted views concerning real worth. Money blinding and narrowing the view, there appears to be no value in the life of an old tree.

As a society may soon realize in our actions, only too late, that one generation plants the trees that the next generation will enjoy; and, that we are quickly destroying our base.

June 8, 2016

An Artist’s View of the Jamar ONeal Clark Story

Jamar Clark

Jamar Clark

There are too many troubling aspects of the Jamar O Neal Clark killing and events leading up to the  fatal early morning hours of that November night – an event that actually began with a series of episodes over many months involving police brutality.  He had a case and that case ended with his death.

If we see with our hearts’ and not just with our minds’ eyes, there is no doubt that this young man was denied his rights and essentially murdered in cold blood; and that the account by law enforcement has been manipulated, not to serve the public good, but to serve its own interests.  The irony, then, is that this kind of “justice” serves no one, least of all the police department.

  • Why would the police pull Jamar out of view of the camera and out of the light? Wouldn’t lights and clear video footage have been helpful to assure a doubting public that the police acted within reason to serve and protect this community?
  • The police officers and the EMS deputy, 5’11 and 220 lbs, are big men. Both officers had guns, while Jamar was unarmed, a slim man standing 5’8″, no more than 160 lbs, and only 24 years old.  Were these men armed with reason instead of guns, perhaps this young man would still be alive.
  • As the EMS deputy approached, Jamar stepped back from the ambulance.  Two minutes later, he appeared lifeless with a bullet through his temple … after, it appears, having had his left wrist cuffed by Schwarze while Ringgenberg maneuvered the right hand over his head, without struggle, and slammed Jamar to the ground.  NO time to ask questions or use reason with this young man, to get to the truth of any matter.  Why was any violence necessary?  Why did Officer Ringgenberg use this take-down tactic when he was, obviously, not adept at using it, claiming this slight young man, Jamar, was reaching for Ringgenberg’s holstered gun as that officer lay on top of him and the other officer held a gun to his head. It doesn’t take much in the way of smarts to know that this was a no-win situation for Jamar.
  • By most all witness accounts and  by video evidence, there were no signs of any struggle from Jamar; but the EMS MVR does show Officer Ringgenberg flailing his legs wildly while laying on his back on top Jamar after the take down at the time of the shooting.  Does it seem reasonable that a trained officer would put himself in this position, placing his holstered weapon next to Jamar’s hands, when Jamar could have been easily cuffed standing.  By all accounts except his assailants, Jamar Clark was peaceable as he stood waiting for police officers and the EMS deputy on the boulevard.
  • Rayann Hayes’ says her last memory of Jamar alive was at the ambulance window looking in.  According to Rayann, she was given pain medication and remembers nothing after this in the EMS vehicle.
  • Why are relevant medical records closed to public scrutiny?
  • Why was ambulance #443 not sent to the forensics garage?
  • Why are the run reports for the two ambulances not available to public scrutiny?
  • Did Attorney Freeman take into account conflicting reports on the sequence of events involving the security of EMS vehicle #419 the night of the shooting?
  • May we have an accounting of all officers and attendants involved with ambulance #443 at rest two blocks away from the scene of the crime, before it was driven to HCMC with Mr Clark?
  • What of the red bag placed in Jamar’s transport after he entered, and then another identical (or the same) red bag quickly taken out, before ambulance #443 left?  EMS deputy Trullinger then placed this red bag next to an officer at the crime scene.  There is no red bag documented at the crime scene.
  • Shouldn’t the crime scene have been secured immediately?  As it was, video evidence and key witness accounts indicate that there were many unidentified officers walking in and out of said area.  Yet very few officers give testimony to this.
  • The views of Jamar’s wrists, taken for forensics, are obstructed by bandages, tape and tubes.  Only what appears to be the underside of Jamars’ right wrist is shown with the bandage lifted, and this photo is blurry.  The left wrist on the underside is not shown.  No fluid of any kind was moving through those tubes.
  • Had Jamar died at the scene?  He suffered cardiac arrest with a bullet through the temple that lodged in his brain.
  • Upon exit from ambulance #443, there is no IV on Jamar’s left wrist as it limply falls off the side.  The IV was in his right wrist; and it too fell off the side of his transport.
  • Crucial details are obscured in the videos from both ambulances and at very low resolution (360).  Shouldn’t an EMS MVR be of better quality?
  • If life preserving techniques were being used to save Jamar at HCMC, then, why wasn’t the bullet removed?
  • Any statement that there were no handcuffs because there were no contusions on Jamar’s wrists, presumes that he struggled.  An absence of bruising would have been just as likely if, as witnesses claim, Jamar was cuffed without a struggle.
  • Officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg were delivered to the 4th Precinct together in Officer Sworski’s squad car, who self-assigned.  Supervision of a sergeant is standard procedure.  Therefore, there was quite a bit of time for the officers to talk between themselves after the MVR automatically shut off in the 4th precinct parking lot.
  • The gun in question was handled by Sworski before being returned to Schwarze.  This Smith and Wesson brushed Officer Connor’s hat on the dashboard, as well.  NO way to handle crucial evidence from the scene of a killing. Why was it not bagged at the scene of the crime with both Schwarze’s and Ringgenberg’s gear?  Another failure to secure a crime scene.
  • The officers did not provide their clothing for forensics until December 2015.  Is this standard procedure in an investigation?
  • Officers Schwarze and Ringgenberg arrived at 4th precinct prior to the incident for break; and so their videos for the day downloaded and the MVR shut off automatically.  It was at 00:40 am that they were called to the scene on a code 3 reportedly arriving at 00:48:14.  Since the officers did not activate their emergency lights on the way to the crime scene, the MVR remained off.  They chose not to activate it manually.
  • With over 60 responders at the scene of this crime, emergency lights flashing, it begs the question, where are relevant MPD MVR’s  from 00:40 to 01:20am on that fateful night?  Surely there must have been something of substance on at least one of these videos.

Freeman’s one-man jury, using the perpetrators’ testimony above all, was flawed by prejudice.  It will not, nor should it be, the last word.   Words and/or manipulations of facts to create preferred outcomes will not make any of this right.  As it is in art and with any act that uses illusion to portray a particular vision, seeing is believing only to a point.  There is no amount of manipulation that will make truth out of a lie.

Hennepin Co. Attorney: No Charges To Be Filed In Jamar Clark Shooting

Takedown Move Used On Jamar Clark Under Scrutiny

June 7, 2016

Man as Nature and Acceptance as a Path


Indigenous cultures understood that man was part of nature.  How far we have wandered from that understanding … to evolve into a creature that deems, or dreams, himself outside the constructs of the natural world, in effect, defining himself as somehow superior to all other creatures and capable of framing his world in any terms he chooses.  The problem lies in man’s failure to understand and accept that he is inextricably linked to nature and he too, like all things, is subject to its laws.  Like the elements, all life and man, Nature is a process and God lies in the wisdom of this process.  Man has yet to fully accept the process.

All creatures survive by procreation and predation.  In life’s quest for itself, we are often pawns of biological rhythms and instincts; and so, mankind envisions himself capable of rising above this all too ‘sordid’ affair.  In this effort, he fails to acknowledge and accept essential qualities of life and, as a consequence, loses sight of vital solutions.

Chance and change, movement, the nature of life.  There is no life without death or night without day.  We rush foolishly to our own destruction when we deny the very truths of existence.  In fear of our own mortality and searching for eternity, man has wandered from the natural world and lost himself.

I am.  In these two words, a world, a universe.  Acceptance is everything, and life is born of this first step.  Judgments tend to separate us, categorize and catalog us, negate qualities in some and elevate those in others, in the end doing us all injustice.  In our unreasonable search for perfection, we often fail to see the beauty before our eyes, in our fellow man and miss countless opportunities.

Nature seeks balance and evolves perpetually based on outcomes.  Watch an otter whose catch has been taken by a coyote.  He complains and fights, as long as there is a chance he might prevail.  In the end, he accepts the outcome and begins another hunt, no wailing that life is unfair or questioning his very existence.  He is simply accepting the facts and the flow of life.  Man is the only creature that perpetually refuses to accept natural outcomes, including himself.  He builds dams in an effort to control the river and succeeds in destroying its essence.

Mankind’s egoism and lack of understanding perpetuate greed and destruction, like an allergic reaction attacking the body as if it were the enemy instead of a wellspring.  He searches for the ideal beyond existence while the real prize unfolds before him every day, every moment.  In this quest driven by fear, he misses the only perfection that life holds.  Is he afraid that in a moment of clarity he may discover his true self, that he, after all, is no better or worse than any other animal, a wave on the shore, or the moon in its perpetual cycle?

A friend once asked, rhetorically: “Why was anything forbidden in Eden if God had created a perfect world?’  A world in utter completeness and balance, the “perfect” world does not exist.  As soon as any balance has been achieved, life requires its undoing and in the end, we are unable to appreciate, in essence, the rose.  We remain fixed on an idea of beauty as if it were a finite definable everlasting thing.  Melancholy sits beside us while we contemplate how fleeting beauty and impossible the dream.  In our sorrow and our unwillingness to accept Nature, we miss the symphony.

Man falls into a trap on this path.  He cannot accept failure in his search for Eden, and cannot accept that this search is based on a false premise.  Seeking balance is a natural phenomenon but it becomes a problem when the search focuses on perfection as a static, narrowly defined commodity.  Man cannot own the dream and so he becomes contemptuous of himself for this perceived failure.  Where he might instill love and promote cooperation, acceptance, he fosters doubt, hate and fear, continuing a cycle of violence with dismal futures for the planet.  Mankind spirals down a path of destruction and self-hate, missing true potentials in his brothers and sisters since he is loath to see these same potentials in himself.

How do we define success in life?  Is it based on some narrow precept, or has it been fitted with tolerance and love, with the knowledge that not all is perfect, least of all Mankind?  Does it come with acceptance that the dance is a product of imbalance and imperfection, an understanding that at any moment, to be aware, to be alive is success itself?  In our search for something outside of reality, we miss all that truly matters!

In our determination to make distinctions, we judge ourselves superior to the natural world and surmise that “improvements” to all things can be made through man’s inventions.  We can never create anything outside of nature; and since no positive change is possible without truth, self-awareness is crucial.  The belief that our species trumps all others and rises above the forces of nature, that we can circumvent these forces defies all logic.  Simply observe.  For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Within this framework, life is movement from one state of being to another; and man’s machinations are subject to no less.  If we fail to respect our true selves, the natural instincts that created man and the imperfections implicit in all life, the world created from our ignorance will not be fit for life.

Man alters natural codes that took millennia to evolve.  He splits atoms and leaves the waste to pollute the earth.  He destroys mountaintops and calls the product “clean coal”, pollutes our seas with oil, our air and earth with its derivatives and calls it necessary.  In a rush to glean the resources of this planet, he makes choices based on profit rather than sanity and sustainability.  Man, in his renegade actions, refuses to practice common sense and beats a path of environmental ruin.  He is a hurricane with the potential to change course through self-awareness and respect, perhaps; but, we may never know, without the recognition that we are all part and parcel of this natural world.

Our life’s safari involves a hunt for more than food and shelter.  Like all living things, we reach for light and that light is in us all.  All Nature moves beyond the mundane in this dimension.  Birds sing at dawn.  Squirrels collect articles that have no practical use – like items in a child’s pocket.  All creatures appreciate beauty, and, like the otter, recognize truth.  For what is truth but a natural outcome, and beauty the same?  Our fate may very well be determined by our relationship to this process and our respect for truth.

In our quest to define a world in defiance of natural laws, mankind is racing down an incline blindfolded, without brakes and fully loaded.  Venturing into abstraction, we stretch the bounds of reality by searching for meaning beyond existence and perverting a basic instinct for beauty into a dogged search for perfection and for immortality, without understanding or respect for the nature of all things.  While we strive to realize our dreams, it would be wise to keep a watchful eye on the road, do proper maintenance, and obey the laws of physics, at least.

Inseparable from the natural world, man finds his dawn in beauty, but beauty is not a static ideal.  It is the well from which all life drinks, ever-changing, dynamic, boundless and perfect in its imperfection, an essential quality of life.  Acceptance, born of tolerance and truth, synchronizes with immutable forces that create and sustain life, in essence, the only Eden possible.


May 11, 2016

Pondering a picture of an Alberta lake …

Glacier Lake in Alberta

glacial lake in Alberta


I took this picture in the 1970’s of water in the mountains of Alberta. Since that time there have been changes but not to my memories.  How many memories would fill a mountain stream in West Virginia that is now being destroyed by mountain top removal?  How many memories do we, as a species, have of the waters that ran clear and cool before mining, drilling and fracking for fossil fuels?

I  remember the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness before the fires, and before the drills from companies seeking copper, gold and other “precious” metals took its toll.  I remember the stands of thousand year-old cedars in the west as I drove into Seattle to see waves crashing on the shore of the Washington coast … before the Fukushima disaster, before garbage islands and the Exxon oil spill … before so many bad decisions.  The cedars along the highway have been lumbered.  The oceans, and the species that depend on it’s health, are endangered … including mankind.

As I watch the destruction of trees, water, the air and the land  … all to greed and short term profit, I wonder if man will learn before it’s too late, too late for our species and the species doomed by our shortsightedness.  As the Minnesota “Department of Natural Resources'” approval of Polymet’s Final Environmental Impact Study for the NorthMet Project opened the way for the permitting process, we wait … wait to see what matters most.  Water or money?



May 5, 2016

Truth and Beauty

northeastern minnesota lake

We may not always know a lie when we hear it;
but we know truth when we see it.
March 31, 2016

More news on Northmet …

Bear Head State Park (near the proposed NorthMet Project)

Bear Head State Park (near the proposed NorthMet Project)

For information on the permit process (from the DNR)

and on financial assurance and preparations the DNR is making for the environmental battle ahead .

Permit processing will begin shortly.  One of the permits that will be needed allows for taking of endangered species.  There are timber wolves, Canadian Lynx, moose, many waterfowl and other important species that make this area their home …. not to mention the water.


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.


What will happen to fishing through loss of diversity and pollution of groundwater?

What will happen to fishing through loss of diversity and pollution of groundwater?


How many wilderness-related jobs and experiences will be lost?

How many wilderness-related jobs and experiences will be lost?

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

Moose in the Arrowhead … already affected by global warming

March 20, 2016

Will a copper mine in Babbitt reach the dimensions of the Hull Rust Mine?

While the MDNR (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources) has approved the NorthMet Copper Mine Project’s environmental impact study in the St Louis County of northern Minnesota at the headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway and Lake Superior , we wait for permits and the final RODs (record of decisions) from the National Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers. 

The project depends on the National Forest Service’s approval of a land exchange … trading public, “protected” lands for private lands so that Polymet can mine.

If Polymet cannot make good on their financial promises for this project (and these are many), then the taxpayers of Minnesota will foot the bill for clean up (a clean up, in all probability, that will go into an unforeseeable future.  Future generations will inevitably suffer the consequences.

For the sake of our waters,


January 12, 2016

Comment on the TPP

Comment#  1k0-8ncq-3csy :

 TPP Employment Impact Review

Docket number: USTR-2015-0012

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a trade agreement but a treaty and should be subject to due process as all treaties must be. It affects more than trade and will surrender “due process” in lieu of forced arbitration and tribunals picked by the few involved in litigation.

The proposed arbitration process under the TPP will naturally affect a wide swath of people, far beyond those privy to discovery because, unlike a trade agreement, it covers far more than trade; and the potential harmful effects of corporate policies made law, through this process, cannot be fought in courts of the land, but through private arbitration with business profits in mind.

In effect, these kind of decisions may affect those who have no ability or legal right through this “agreement” to protest or even know what is being arbitrated. It will naturally be prejudicial to the interests of those who have the power to present their case and view the details of the case; while the people who, most likely, will be responsible for paying the bills or suffering the effects of these decisions will have no legal input.

Sovereign nations that have agreed to this corporate agreement will not be able to opt out of this agreement as they would in a treaty if, in fact, the voters decided that the agreement was not in the best interest of their country. The citizens of this country would be forfeiting their right to public disclosure and discovery, the right to protect their jobs, their environments, their food through due process to corporate profits and interests decided in closed door binding arbitration.

In conclusion, this Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a pact between countries dealing simply with tariffs and trading arrangements, but a corporate business agreement affecting every aspect of a sovereign nation without allowing the protections afforded by the judicial system of justice in a treaty.

January 12, 2016

Please send your comments concerning the TPP … ASAP. Due tomorrow January 13, 2016!

After years of corporate discussion that left the public, the taxpaying citizen, in the dark concerning this so-called “trade agreement”, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we are now given two weeks, after Christmas and in the New Year holiday season to comment.  The deadline approaches, tomorrow January 13, 2013. Tasked to read over 5,000 pages and comment, it is no small wonder if few of us understand the full implication of this corporate agreement.

The poor slobs who will have to pay for corporate run of our countries, our environment, our jobs and our welfare will have very little to say if our Congress goes along with this lopsided corporate business agreement.  We will be forfeiting our sovereignty, public discussion and agreement to business and forced arbitration.

Please submit your comments at the link below in .doc or pdf format with the title “TPP Employment Impact Review” on the first page.!documentDetail;D=USTR_FRDOC_0001-0366

Let your congress men and women know that the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership does not fly with the citizens of this nation; and that we did not have adequate say in the development of this legally binding document.

There is an excellent article at the Huffington Post:

Your input is so important to the future sovereignty and welfare of this nation.


December 22, 2015

Will we be paying to defend Polymet?

A law firm has already been hired by the state to handle any lawsuits that may result from the ROD concerning the NorthMet Project; and this leaves much to ponder.  Has the decision already been made to allow a copper mine in the headwaters of the Great Lakes?

The irony lies in the fact that most of us do not want to see this precious resource destroyed by copper mining (note the 10’s of thousands of objections from taxpaying citizens) … and yet, we, as taxpayers, might be footing the bill to defend the DNR in these kind of decisions, decisions that have granted the right to mine in water-dependent ecosystems of Northern Minnesota and along the Laurentian Divide.

Send your questions and comments to Governor Dayton and let him know your thoughts.

December 21, 2015

Comments on the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the NorthMet Mining Project and Land Exchange, Hoyt Lakes, St Louis County, Minnesota

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


As a follow up to my review of the FEIS, November 2015, I have included, as part of this letter, twelve comments and questions concerning the proposed copper mine in Babbitt and associated processing plant in Hoyt Lakes.

Comment #1

How would a land exchange void the responsibility vested in USFS as the steward of public lands presently in their care?

With the proposed land exchange, USFS 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, lands that USFS would need to trade in order for mining to occur.

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.

This land exchange, essentially, would create a barter system that conflicts with the USFS’ role as steward and allows exploitation. By any reasoning, the land exchange cannot be reconciled with this public trust.


Comment #2

Is it wise to risk the security of the St Louis Watershed, one that feeds the greatest freshwater lake by area in the world, Lake Superior, and lies at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence River?

All life depends upon reserves of water; and the Arrowhead is at the source of one of the largest supplies on Earth. St Louis River, at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway, supplies freshwater to Lake Superior and the Great Lakes. Products of the Laurentide Ice Sheet melt, Rainy Lake, Lake of the Woods, and Red Lake formed in the basin of Lake Agassiz, which extended over 170,000 square miles, possibly the largest freshwater lake ever (similar in size to the Black Sea). This glacial lake provided water to northern Minnesota, the Red River Valley and may still be discharging its glacial waters from the fractured metamorphic bedrock aquifers of the Arrowhead. The FEIS confirms that bedrock of the region has low conductivity and could take thousands of years to discharge.

In addition to the glacial waters of Agassiz, others glacial lakes like Norwood, Upham and Aitkin, products of the LIS, as well, have discharged their waters into the Arrowhead of Minnesota. Diverse moraines such as the Vermilion Moraine, left evidence in patterns of glacial till that can be seen around Babbitt, Ely, the Embarrass River area, and Hoyt Lakes, overlain in many areas by lush vegetation and lakes.

Covered by such a luxuriant carpet, the land that Polymet and others want to mine can be as difficult to inspect for existing aquifers, confined or otherwise, as it is to locate existing faults and fractures of bedrock in the area. This does not mean they don’t exist.

The fact that the NorthMet Project prospect lies within the boundary of the Vermilion Moraine, along with the BWCAW and Ely, makes this even more difficult. The potential of water traversing aquifers through fractured metamorphic bedrock, sight unseen, is heightened. No one spot duplicates another, essentially with variations in depth to bedrock by hundreds of feet, coverage of waterlogged vegetation and lakes, and a diversity that is like no other on earth.

Like faults, aquifers can be inferred invariably through their effects. Observe the copious discharge of water from the Big Stoney along the north shore of Minnesota. Observe the waters that so readily flow from the area of the Mesabi Widjiu, in rivers like Prairie River and Swan River from the Hill of Three Waters, the Vermilion River, St Louis River, Rainy River, and the great Mississippi. All one needs to do is observe.

As faults and fractures allow water to disperse in bedrock, these aquifers eventually find outlet in rivers, streams, fens, wetlands, falls, ponds and lakes at varying distances and directions from the site of recharge in the Laurentian Uplands.

According to the FEIS, surficial aquifers surrounding the mine site have a low conductivity, though not as low as bedrock in the same area, which supposedly decreases with depth. In this environment, then, it took thousands of years for glacial waters to make their way to the basin of Lake Superior. These waters can be seen dispersing in rich wetlands and rivers throughout; and they continue to nourish land in the Arrowhead supporting a vast and intricate ecosystem.

Does it make ecological sense to place a copper mine where it can do so much harm to water resources, with the potential of collecting into highly toxic sludge, polluting more and more of the surficial aquifers of the region, as waters are made stagnant and dead over the years?

There will be floods. There will be upheavals, as history proves … waters will disperse, as it is the nature of water to do. What will be left after the mine extracts precious reserves of water from aquifers, seen and unseen, confined or not, to process metals that serve its profit margin? Will there be any wild areas left, named or unnamed, categorized or not when the pollution from concentrates, waste rock and filters have found their way through this valuable ecosystem and the watersheds of the Arrowhead?

Our national security depends upon protection of freshwater resources, and the Arrowhead stands as a source of one of the largest fresh water reserves on earth. No copper mine is worth the risk of degrading this precious resource.


Comment #3

How can protection of a species be reconciled with destruction of habitat and nesting sites?

Since the various animal species do not pay attention to lines drawn on a map, they will trespass naturally. Water knows no real boundaries, either, over time; and time is the key word. In time, all things great and small in this water dependent ecosystem will be affected by actions proposed today in the Arrowhead.

The FEIS notes, that approximately 1,535 acres (58 percent) of mature forest would be lost at the mine site alone, that the species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) found at the mine site would be birds from Table 4.2.5-1 and that they would be “displaced.” The FEIS goes on to state that it is likely these birds would not be injured or killed, though nesting birds could be affected. The FEIS states that the mine would not likely affect individual migratory songbirds or other bird species protected under the MBTA; but would likely affect habitat and nest sites used by them.

How does one “affect” another’s home, without affecting the individual; and, as a matter of course, disturb nesting sites without disturbing the propagation of a species? With time, more species than those cited by the FEIS would be “affected” in the course of their reproductive cycles; and this, in turn, would naturally affect survival of a number of species in the area.


Comment #4

What security is there in a mining economy that depends entirely on the market, one that will not contribute to the real long-term wealth of this area?

Such an economy based on mining depends on the whims of a market. Copper mining will pollute the resources essential to our survival, perhaps into perpetuity, while providing profits and wealth to relatively few people over twenty years, more or less. After the mines have gone, as we see today, there will be masses of unemployed people, desperate, in a failing economy.

Recycling metals is on the upswing and processes for this type of recovery are being more fully developed as the North Met Project is being pondered. This could make mining for copper less profitable in a very short time. The price of commodities will vary, and markets are fickle. As a consequence, copper cannot guarantee a secure future, and certainly not a green economy in the Arrowhead.

Statistics abound concerning the wealth of wilderness tourism; and it cannot be reconciled with a mining scenario. When the copper mines are gone, what will be left? The choice is truly between wilderness and mining. Transport down scenic highways to and from the NorthMet Project will weave a web far beyond the sites that FEIS reviewed. Tourists will be traveling down the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway, along highways and roads to Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass, Ely, Babbitt and Silver Bay.

These potential long-term customers will see the effects of mining and it will affect the tourist industry. The sounds of blasting, trucks and drilling are not conducive to wilderness by any stretch; and neither is the potential of streams and waterways polluted with sulfuric acid and other toxins from mining copper.

Atmospheric conditions are unpredictable and Polymet will not be able to control these. The sounds of drilling from exploratory wells for copper and other metals can be heard in the BWCAW at this time. If Polymet gets permission to pollute and take lands in the Laurentian Uplands, there will be little peace for these areas, no chance of true wilderness experience and tourism.

Jobs that create a steady future do not lie in mining a land that, once mined, is degraded. Fields that once grew wild rice, grow no more. Waters that held rich stores of fish are dead and dying. Ecosystems fail and waters need constant treatment. Wetlands that once held diverse flora and fauna are no more.

This is not security.


Comment #5

The FEIS did not adequately address the potential effects of fossil fuels on the atmosphere surrounding the NorthMet Project.

Fossil fuel needs will escalate at LTV and the mining site, fuel and coal needs for the plant and mine, fuel for the vehicles, the crushers, the earthmovers and trains. Acid rain will emerge as an even greater problem, and the FEIS did not address this issue sufficiently. Repercussions will be felt in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, most certainly, from atmospheric effects alone.

Coal fired plants have provided energy to mines along the Mesabi Range for decades and, in the last 50 years, signs of acid rain have degraded foliage and forests in the path of their plumes. Witness dying birch, and mountain ash (that have all but entirely disappeared along the North Shore of Minnesota).

The effects of a copper mine in this fragile ecosystem will reach far beyond the boundaries of the plant and mine sites with potentially devastating effects.


Comment #6

This FEIS does not address known fractures, fault lines within the project site, and those along the Range. What of the Waasa and Camp Rivera Faults? What of the Vermilion Fault?

The effects of faults and fractures have been downplayed in models, which were made to inform the FEIS. The connectivity of bedrock with surficial aquifers assumed to be low, and the upper surface of fractured metamorphic bedrock assumed to be fractured more heavily at the top than down under. This conclusion seems convenient and arbitrary, since these structures cannot be truly known, sight unseen. Is there some reason that Polymet did not use the available information on inferred faults for more in depth field study on these particular areas?

The devil is always in the details. Though details can be used to obfuscate and avoid larger issues, these particular details are major omissions in a study that assumes to represent a truthful picture of the potential risks involved to groundwater from seepages and discharge through cracks, joints, fractures, faults, bore holes, from waste rock, slurry and tailings basins in the Laurentian Uplands.

Inferences are made all the time in science, through reason and implication, through the use of data and study. All knowledge is brought about in this way. To discount information on inferred faults is careless. The FEIS makes its own inferences. It infers that bedrock has low conductivity around the site and plant. It infers that the pollution would not travel far from the sites. It infers that all systems will operate sufficiently as expected over the lifetime of the mine and into perpetuity. It infers that, if a fault is found, it will be dealt with successfully. It infers much in supporting a copper mining scenario. Details and independent, in depth fieldwork is still needed concerning bedrock aquifers, faults and fractures in the area because of their potential for being conduits of pollution into ground water reserves, sight unseen.

Polymet admits seepage will occur, but it continues to minimize the risks through assumptions concerning the conductivity of fractured metamorphic bedrock and sand and gravel aquifers throughout the area. Water will most assuredly traverse aquifers and find the path of least resistance. The FEIS minimizes and leaves these pathways open to conjecture with promises that all will be handled, in time.


Comment #7

Potential effects that can be caused by drawdown in artesian springs, are given little review and field study, limited by assumptions and documents supporting the FEIS conclusion that bedrock geology plays a small part in hydrology of the area.

At the same time, we are assured that if there are, indeed, fractures, faults and confined aquifers found during operation, or that drawdown becomes a problem, these issues will be dealt with at the time. Of course, once an artesian has been drawn down, the chances of drawing it back up are limited. At this point, there does not appear to be any technology that can guarantee the renewal of an aquifer, or restoration of ground waters fouled?



Considering the importance of geology in this complex area of Minnesota, the FEIS omits much in detail.

Ground water in the Laurentian Divide frequently diverges from surface topography and therefore locations of recharge and discharge can be impossible to predict. Polymet’s probabilistic models cannot possibly be informed adequately to address the enormous danger of mining water, drawdowns, depressurization of artesians, and upwelling of brackish water to name only a few dangers posed by this project.

In the process of review, some of the most relevant information appears to be missing from the FEIS, or discounted, much of the obvious geological and hydrological evidence that would prove a no action alternative best for the environment and for the habitants upstream and downstream of the proposed mining project.

For instance, significant evidence on the fractured metamorphic nature of these lands, inferred and actual fractures and faults that have been named, the prospect of artesian springs, other faults and fractures in bedrock that may conduct water from the site, the potential that water inflows are much greater by many accounts have been given short shrift in deference to a computer model fed with data chosen, in particular, for this study. It all seems quite arbitrary, and these omissions are significant.

The area that includes Babbitt, Hoyt Lakes and the transportation corridor are covered with sand and gravel surficial aquifers, which run the possibility of overdevelopment in irrigated areas. This region also includes igneous and fractured metamorphic bedrock aquifers, where water can be found in cracks, joints and fractures within otherwise solid rock formations. Hoyt Lakes is a land of sand and gravel buried aquifers, which can be a major source of water (eg the Biwabik formation). Further down the St Louis River, in addition to sand and gravel surficial, and buried aquifers, igneous and fractured metamorphic bedrock aquifers, there are also sedimentary bedrock aquifers. Even though yields from these sedimentary cretaceous deposits are supposed to be low, the possibility that ground water discharges in lowlands from sand and gravel and fractured aquifers, also in the area, certainly exists.

Igneous and fractured metamorphic bedrock aquifers line the North Shore of Minnesota where there are over sixty water features in falls, rivers, and streams. The St Louis Watershed drains a basin of over 3500 square miles at the extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence Seaway. It appears that waters from glacial lakes, formed during the melt of the Laurentide Ice Sheet might still be discharging into Lake Superior as these waters work their way through the fractured bedrock aquifers of St Louis, Lake and Cook Counties. As noted, FEIS confirms that due to low permeability of the bedrock, discharge could take thousands of years… and so it seems that polluted waters could do the same. Polymet would be long gone before the consequences of copper mining could be fully assessed.

The FEIS avoids much discussion on differentiating major geologic areas, although Ely, Babbitt, Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass, the BWCAW and the whole of Giants Ridge are encompassed in a single one of these regions. The FEIS avoids in depth review of the existence of confined aquifers (extremely important in the security of the groundwater), avoids discussing in particular dissimilarities in surface composites and bedrock as relates to their conductivity and connectivity, specifics on the variability of depth to bedrock, inevitable flooding scenarios, weather anomalies, likely spills and exposures, drumlin fields, watershed anomalies (for instance, the fact that the tailings pond at the Minntac plant has outgrown what was once the boundary of the Vermilion Watershed, redrawn on maps to put it within the St Louis Watershed). Polymet’s NorthMet Project will increase the size of this tailings pond and so it is crucial to understand fully the hydrology of both surficial and bedrock aquifers directly underlying this tailings pond in particular.

Metamorphic rock is mentioned very little in the FEIS, as it fails to note that most of the Arrowhead is covered by fractured metamorphic rock, and in the area of the project, that sand and gravel surficial aquifers are prevalent as well, major omissions in outlining the geology of the area. Through these errors of omission, the probability of surficial and bedrock transport appears minimal at best. Is it possible to make a valid review of the project’s feasibility without details like this?


Comment #9

Of course, a model cannot take into consideration all of the factors in this extremely complex area of the North Met Project prospect, and so, I wonder, why experiential data from over 100 years of mining was not favored over probabilistic prognostications and limited field study prepared specifically for the NorthMet Project?

The Mississippi is now polluted; the St Louis River, and waters off the North Shore are imperiled. One hundred years is so little time in the course of a history like the Arrowhead, but much damage has already been done. What would be the result after 500 years of seepage from the degraded rotted and rusted infrastructure of a copper sulfide mine?

Studies that fail to use extensive fieldwork and data available from mining experience of the Mesabi Widjiu over the past one hundred years since the late 1890’s are likely to misrepresent the risks involved with a copper mine in the Arrowhead.


Comment #10

Just as the tailings pond at the Minntac plant site outgrew the boundary of the St Louis Watershed into the Vermilion Watershed, will the pits and ponds at the North Met mine site, so close to the northern boundary of the St Louis Watershed, outgrow its boundary as well, reaching into the watershed of Rainy River?

Indigenous peoples have lived in this area for thousands of years. They know the lands and waters of the area. They have honored this priceless parcel that is the Arrowhead of Minnesota and the Mesabi Widjiu. Perhaps unwisely, maybe without a choice, the tribes ceded this territory by treaty in the mid 1800’s. How shamelessly we have treated this land since that time. The quality of water has degraded, wetlands have suffered, the forests have been lumbered, and lands developed and damaged through mining activity and pollution.

If water seepage and inflow has not been predicted realistically for this study, then, the potential for harming watersheds of the St Louis River, Vermilion River and the Rainy River is great. Tribes inform the co-lead agencies that inflows are considerably higher than suggested by the EIS. How has related data from this observation informed the FEIS?


Comment #11

Due to the precedent that a copper mine in Babbitt will set, if granted, the potential for mining pits and tailings basins surrounding the area of the BWCAW watershed will be greatly increased.

Exploratory wells have been made well past the northern boundaries of the St Louis River Watershed, into the Rainy River Watershed, and on the boundary of the BWCAW. As a consequence, if the North Met project for a copper mine is granted, this will create the potential of a succession of mining pits and wells that move from the NE of Giants Ridge into the domain of the BWCA Wilderness. Consequently, the NorthMet Project prospect has the potential of affecting a larger area than the study proposes.

Elevated levels of arsenic can be found in the BWCAW along with brackish waters from exploratory wells. These details cannot be overlooked because it foretells the real possibility of pollution from Polymet’s mine pits traversing aquifers and connecting the St Louis Watershed to the Rainy River Watershed. The potential of surficial and bedrock connectivity from the mine site to this highly diverse geology of the BWCAW region through fluid and interconnected wilderness waterways, glacial moraine and diverse geology is relevant to the discussion.


Comment #12

Relying on probabilistic outcomes that narrow the view and minimize the prospect of pollution reaching downstream seems unrealistic. The potential of downstream contamination throughout the St Louis River Watershed should be given full consideration in any responsible environmental study concerning the prospect of a copper mine in this ecologically important area at the headwaters of the greatest body of freshwater on earth.

The St Louis River Watershed is composed of tilted bedrock planes that lean toward Lake Superior. Some of this can be seen in Jay Cook State Park, downstream from the prospect. The topography of the Laurentian Uplands and the swampy lowlands is diverse, including beds of wavy bedrock and washboard effects in areas like the Toimi Drumlin Field. The diversity of topography is as great as the diversity of flora and fauna. These areas are hardly flat.

Consider that the final drainage of the Laurentide Ice Sheet is said to have occurred around 8200 YBP and this caused sea levels to rise between 2.6 to 9.2 feet. Can the inevitable flow of local waters to the sea be discounted in a study that truly represents the risk of pollution from a copper mine?

Lake Superior is the product of glacial waters that flowed from the LIS and from glacial lakes that grew from the LIS melt. The St Louis River developed in the basin of Glacial Lake Upham. Relative to the age of this earth, the rivers in Minnesota are young, still cutting paths to the sea.

If downstream effects were given due merit, the facts would be clear that the entire Arrowhead of Minnesota would eventually suffer loss and damage from the operation of a copper mine in the Laurentian Uplands. No reassurance will carry the weight of facts before our eyes, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

Please do not permit this land exchange to occur.

December 19, 2015 REVISION

Anita Tillemans



December 21, 2015

Replace the DNC Chair

Actions taken recently by the DNC to restrict access to the records of one candidate in deference to others, before all facts could be vetted, showed extreme prejudice. Debby Wasserman Schultz’ leadership as DNC chair, through her unapologetic actions, in this case, draws into question the entire process.


By risking the future of one democratically held grass roots campaign, it raises doubt concerning all campaigns.  As a consequence, I ask that Ms Shultz be replaced by someone who can engender renewed confidence in the democratic process that the DNC is vested to serve.


If you would like to see a change in leadership at the DNC, follow the link below:

November 30, 2015

What meaning does the phrase “long term” have in Polymet’s view?


looking into the wilderness

We, as the taxpaying citizens, cannot know how accurately the modeling was done for the SDEIS and the FEIS concerning the North Met Project because we are not privy to the minutiae.  We do not know how the data was applied, exactly; though, we do know that much data readily available on mining in the Mesabi Range was not used … nor were the effects of variables, like weather and cumulative impacts of waste from previous mine pits and tailings’ basins, added substantially into the calculations.  We are asked, simply, to trust Polymet and the vested interests in this mining operation, in effect … asked to trust that everything will be worked out in process as the mine is being built and operated with the awe inspiring words: “as needed”!

We are expected to trust in a computer model based on assumptions and short term, hand-picked data to determine outcomes of something that will be lived and experienced in real time holistically, possibly, for as long as any of the interested parties live and beyond, into perpetuity … without knowing what to expect from the effects of climate change, without proper in-depth long term studies of confined aquifers and other varied hydrological features in this very complex geological area of northeastern Minnesota being figured into the studies.

The “long term” studies of these environmental impact statements, after over forty years of flirting with the prospect of copper mining the gabbro complex, amount to a pittance … days, maybe 30, or as much as a few years chosen arbitrarily to prove the least damaging scenario.  Criteria established that skirts the Clean Water Act and fails to take cumulative effects from all mines in the area into account amounts to avoidance of the real issue: that no mining should be allowed in this water dependent ecosystem, that whole ecosystems will be changed forever and that no amount of “restoration” will bring them back.

Long term is not 30 days or a handful of years.  Long term is what we will all suffer if this mine is allowed to operate for any amount of time.  Long term for maintenance and so-called “clean up” will be forever.  What entity can honestly guarantee this?  What entity can project outcomes into a future that cannot be known?  Certainly we cannot know using the most cursory evidence mapped by and fed into a computer model engineered, chosen and paid by those who stand to profit.  It will give outcomes that feed the profit model, naturally.  Will the profit model work to prevent water pollution?  Will it work to protect our wilderness?

Are we looking for short term profit – 40 years, 100 years …  a bust and boom economy that sends our resources out of state and destroys the only long term benefits we have – our water, the wilderness, an ecosystem of such beauty?  Or, do we stand to protect our base from the few that truly profit in a mining scenario?  Do we live or merely survive?  This is ultimately the question.

Listen to our brothers and sisters who have lived here for generations, who have understanding of thousands of years – who know what it means to live in harmony with the lands and waters of this priceless wilderness that is northern Minnesota.

This is a land in the Duluth Gabbro complex that gave birth to glacial lakes that grew into Lake Superior and the Great Lakes, three of the greatest rivers on the North American continent, to the BWCAW … and still it sheds its water from glacial origins in over sixty creeks, rivers and falls along the North Shore, flowing into Lake Superior.

Comments on the FEIS are due on December 21, 2015 (an extension of one week from the original deadline).  We cannot afford to lose this treasure to mining interests.  Please let Governor Dayton know what you think as well.




November 9, 2015

Another Spill to be Expected ….

Any one who has traveled up the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River these days understands that the oil being transported along the river through small towns in bluff country (sometimes 100 trains each day) will eventually spill … whether it is from tracks that are overburdened, or in need of repair, or human failure. It is inevitable.  And so it goes, a spill this week.  One need only stand in a store as the trains thunder through town at 60 miles an hour, maybe two to four an hour during the day and you would not be surprised.  This is a tragedy that can be circumvented, if we stop relying on fossil fuel and clean up our act.  There are other things that once begun, can never be remedied.

On that note, the FEIS for the Polymet Mine proposal or, officially:

NorthMet Mining and Land Exchange Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS)

has come out this week and is available at:

I will be reviewing this paper over the never 30 days that we are allowed to review and comment considering these points:

  1. Why talk of who will clean up the environmental degradation from copper mining when, in fact, cleanup at this level would be impossible for anyone at any cost?
  2.  Once the miners have left, what will remain of the wilderness and the waterways, the wildlife, the flora, among these, the wild rice?
  3.  What will happen to the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area and the potential for a viable tourist industry?
  4.  What of the wild and scenic rivers of the north and Lake Superior? the Saganagaw? the Rainy River?….
  5. Every mine leaves tailings ponds … like those in Silver Bay, along the Laurentian Divide and Giants Ridge, at Hull Rust Mine and others.  What clean up is possible once begun?  Pollution from these enterprises has already reached into the BWCA, down the Mississippi and into Lake Superior. With a coal plant in Silver Bay, the effects of acid rain can be seen along the North Shore from only half a century of operation. The effects of copper mining in water dense areas, in particular, have the potential of even more damage, damage that will reach into the lives of generations to come.  No amount of money will pay for the loss.
  6. A copper mine will be mining, not only metals but, water … our most precious and most valuable commodity.
  7. Will copper trump our water resources, our wilderness, and our sanity?

The emotions will run high as they should.  We have nothing to lose by sitting idly by without comment, but the very thing that makes our lives sustainable, literally.

Take a look at Mississippi River Bluff country in Perrot State Park, downstream from our mines.  The water at this park is not safe to drink now.  What more will we lose in the surrounding countryside from the pollution of a copper sulfide mine?


October 25, 2015

As we approach a decision on the Polymet Copper Mine …

Mn lake and loon

As Governor Dayton proposes funding for a study to determine Polymet’s finances at the present moment, I wonder how possible it would be to determine those finances into the distant future? Are there any reassurances possible that will predict this corporation’s ability or willingness to clean up the inevitable long term effects of copper mining pollution, into perpetuity? Shouldn’t we consider the already abundant information that promises otherwise?

Grateful that the Governor will be exploring other mines in other areas, I wonder,  is there any other area quite like that proposed in St Louis County on the borders of the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area?  Pollution from mining ore has already done harm in this ecologically fragile area, at the heart and head of three great rivers, and Lake Superior, along Giants Ridge and the Laurentian Divide, in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota.

Will we learn from our own experience and say no to any further degradation of an area so rich in natural beauty and a most essential commodity, water?

You will find several articles linked below concerning this area and the proposed copper mine::

August 8, 2015

Truth and Opinion


Views are varied, understandable or not, superficial or deep, based on facts, prejudices, vantage points…. The gamut of opinion is wide. Within, these opinions can be thoughtful, trite, unkind, diplomatically, politically astute, entertaining, ironic … instructive, banal …. So what is truth? Is it a fact that there are as many truths as there are opinions? Is truth relative, or do we confuse truth with opinion?

The internet provides a platform, at this point, for all manner of opinion and may it remain so. We benefit by the views of others that may open doors and broaden our perspectives. In this manner, we arrive at the gates of each eternal truth – but only with open minds. What, then, is it that prevents an open mind? Being born, we have all been impressionable. Learning required this. We were traumatized at times by our own willingness to explore the unknown; and we have a few scars for the experience. How did we respond?

In the process of living life, we learned to avoid some things and embrace others. Some developed unreasonable fears that, as fears do, tended to close a once impressionable mind. Relatively speaking, then, the book was closed until further notice on one subject or another for fear. An open mind would leave that book open for further updates, perpetually, with no page unturned – relative to time … our lives finite.

The word has been passed in conversation since language began — transformed to words on tablets, then paper and now to electronic images that, in a flash, appear and just as quickly disappear. Forms and the framework of communications have become exceedingly more volatile and less stable than the stone tablets of writing’s origins. We have come full circle essentially and while the audience for any one opinion has grown, the idea of permanency has been shattered. As in life, there is no forever concerning words written or otherwise.

In this regard, we have the substance of truth. The one thing that separates truth from opinion is time. Truth today was truth at Stonehenge and will be so in a thousand years. Therefore, it becomes more relevant today than ever, in this world of opinions, to take time, for instance, to turn off our devices and experience silence each day, for the peace to put words in perspective, until what remains clarifies and illuminates.

Like beauty and kindness, truth is eternal and makes our lives worth the living. Relative to this, nothing else truly matters. To be or not to be is essentially an individual choice.

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

August 8, 2015

July 20, 2015

Will we through our mining practices continue to degrade our most precious resource … water?

Loon on a lake in the Arrowhead

The following photos were taken in parts of northern Minnesota, some in the UP of Michigan, Colorado Rockies, Alberta, Canada, and on a beach of the Pacific ocean off the Olympic National Forest … all areas where protection of our environment has taken a back seat to lumbering, mining for ore, frack sand, and/or fracking and drilling for oil and gas.  These lands are threatened through practices that pollute and usually drain (mine) our aquifers of good drinking water.

July 1, 2015

What is love?


Those who love know the courage it takes … that love is full of pain as well as joy, but they would not live without it.

Love has been so misunderstood, the word used without much real meaning or depth, maligned and misused.

In my search to understand the disparity, I found that Albert Einstein had listed three ideals that “lighted his way”.  These were truth, beauty and kindness.  In his magnificent way of simplifying this beautiful universe, he gave substance to the word love.  Even as he, the mathematician, felt he had failed at finding a unifying principle in physics, it was at the heart of his life’s journey.

Quotes by Albert Einstein:

“When we survey our lives and endeavors we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. We see that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals. We eat food that others have grown, wear clothes that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of a language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principal advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth would remain primitive and beast-like in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a member of a great human society, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave.”

“I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.”

June 25, 2015

Balanced on a precipice …

How many trains will be moving through the Arrowhead because of copper mining?

How many trains will be moving through the Arrowhead because of copper mining?

With approval of a “fast track” to passing the so-called “trade” agreements (or more honestly, treaties … treaties that the public has not been allowed to review), what does our US Congress have in mind?  With the fate of our waters in the balance, the health of this planet at risk and on the block, will for-profit corporations determine the direction for us all?

Lives are in the balance and with so much to lose to the greed of a few, I hear the train a-coming down the track on rails that are long overdue for repair.  So much to do, so little time.

June 15, 2015

Elimination of the MPCA Citizen’s Board, MN and an arrangement to facilitate pollution of our water ….

One of the best articles explaining the benefits to mining from our Minnesota Special Session in 2015 can be read at:

No bias here… just statements concerning the relief expected for the mining industry in the iron range through elimination of the MPCA’S citizen’s board  and an arrangement that will exempt waste from copper nickel mining from solid waste rules.  What better declaration as to the benefits of this board and the protection it has already given to the people who live here?

An essential part of good environmental practice, this board is a protective agency that deals with decisions on pollution of water, air and land resources affecting the entire state.  Since the purpose of this organization is to allow maximum benefit and protection to the welfare of the people in Minnesota, and, since the health of our land, water and air benefits us all, including those on the iron range, a fully functioning board is far from hostile to the citizens of this state.  It should be considered an intelligent part of a program to transition from practices that pollute our base and destroy vital resources.

A link to the MPCA Citizen’s Board page:

April 30, 2015

Education and the road to …


nita 4yo SA


The solutions to problems that confront our society are diverse and complex, requiring a deep and broad understanding.  Education, above all, then, cannot be ignored or made trivial … this most vital ingredient, at its best and most true, has creative power.

Every soul, no matter race, sex, creed, economic situation … should have the opportunity to share in solutions.   Since we cannot afford to lose any mind to shortsightedness, through greed, prejudice or the like, respecting every input (whether we agree or disagree) not knowing what we need absolutely, where the best solution may be found or which stronghold of human ingenuity will offer up the needed ideas at any given moment in our history, essential.  Kindness, then, is not only a grace.  It is intelligence at its greatest potency; and motivated by the love that gives strength to see beyond ourselves and a narrow view.

What, then, is opportunity according to  Synonyms: excuse, freedom, hope, moment, space, time, break, connection, contingency, cut, fortuity, go, happening, hour, juncture, leisure, liberty, occasion, opening, pass, relief, room, run, scope shot, show, spell, squeak, stab, turn, fair shake, fighting chance, good fortune, good luck, iron in the fire, one’s move, one’s say, one’s turn, the hunt, the running … are only a few of the words one could use to equate with opportunity.  Time and environment then determine opportunity for most of us, and it is a rare individual that can overcome these two.

The antonyms to opportunity, from this same source, are closing, closure, misfortune, reality, truth and bad luck.  The addition of reality and truth chilled, but it perhaps echoes what we face today … since, for most of the world, lack of opportunity is a reality and the truth that many live.

Throughout my life, this has been a heartfelt search … how do we make it possible for all children to thrive, to lead mindful and fulfilling lives?  Teach a man to fish … so the saying goes.  All, even the smallest child, need to be part of something bigger, to feel as though he/she belongs.  We are not fulfilled in this manner by charity, but by kindness … and kindness involves respect for human dignity.  Dignity comes in all forms, suited to each individual and so there is no one solution.  That must be decided by each in one’s own time and way.  Through a full and meaningful education, one is given the tools, the insight to find the way — education that is broad and without prejudice, one that gives the same opportunity to all children in all environments and situations.

In my view, this can only be done through levies that are proportionately drawn from the community as a whole according the ability to pay those taxes, and distributed evenly to all communities.  This would allow those children in poor communities to share in equal opportunity education.  It would require less school busing, less waste in higher income neighborhoods of much needed tax dollars, give needed money to areas that have long suffered dwindling resources, and build stronger communities in all parts of our world ….  It would encourage integration, not only in schools but in housing, creating better understanding between peoples.  Resources, in time, would become more evenly distributed and accessible to children of all environments.  Those environments would become more equitable in time, as well.

It has been said time and again, that there will always be poor.  This said, “the poor” are not a species but a description of circumstances.  We can change those circumstances and make a better world.

Anita Tillemans

April 30, 2015




American Psychological Association (APA):

opportunity. (n.d.). Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Retrieved April 30, 2015, from website:

Chicago Manual Style (CMS):

opportunity. Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Philip Lief Group 2009. (accessed: April 30, 2015).

Modern Language Association (MLA):

“opportunity.” Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Philip Lief Group 2009. 30 Apr. 2015. <>.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):, “opportunity,” in Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition. Source location: Philip Lief Group 2009. Available: Accessed: April 30, 2015.

BibTeX Bibliography Style (BibTeX)

@article {Thesaurus.com2015,     title = {Roget’s 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition},     month = {Apr},     day = {30},     year = {2015},     url = {},

April 25, 2015

Leasing of Public Lands to the Fossil Fuel Industry … a letter to President Obama

April 25, 2015

Dear President Obama,

Concerning the offshore oil leases and the leasing of public lands to the fossil fuel industry, my father was an engineer, a (geophysics) engineer, who was asked to comment on an earlier oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico over 40 years ago. He noted, at that time, that the smallest of organisms were affected by that particular spill in the 70’s. He was a sincere and intelligent man who gave his best, and logical sense about what was going on.

Many years earlier when I was living in Louisiana with my parents, in New Orleans, we visited Lake Pontchartrain for a meal. Even as a child I couldn’t help but notice the effects that drilling for oil in the Gulf was having on the waters of that area, as a wave sprayed us on the dock of the restaurant with bits of tar in the mix. BP found a dangerous alternative to this, by adding dispersant to the spill from Deepwater Horizon, so that much of these “bits of evidence” were hidden from view and now lie well under the surface of the Gulf, where they will most definitely affect the ecosystem from there, sight unseen.

How much more damage is being done out of sight by the fossil fuel industry as we lease our priceless public lands and waters to voracious and destructive corporations who dispose of toxic waste, fracking and drilling vital substructures and formations, very likely causing an increase in earthquakes, poisoning our waters and air, and literally stealing the most precious resource we have, our water, in a time of history when water is quickly becoming a commodity that we cannot afford to waste.

When I voted for you, it was on the promise that you were devoted to alternative sources of energy. By a great many estimates, we have no time to lose. I see the many things your administration has done to contribute to this kind of clean energy, but your support of fossil fuel and consequent increase in oil production has served to offset these positive contributions greatly.

You have such a great opportunity to change our direction, President Obama. Please say no to the use of public lands and substructures by the fossil fuel industry, in effect, trading our most valuable resources to the greed and profit of a few who have lost the foresight to see that they, too, will eventually lose by doing so.


Anita Tillemans

April 8, 2015

Proposed Clear Cutting in Klamath National Forest

When did we turn the corner from protecting our old growth forests for all, to selling these masterpieces of creation for financial profit? These are public lands that were set aside for all and not the profit of a few.

In clear cutting tracts of these forests, what protection is there against deterioration of the old growth canopy?  What of the species that depend upon these forests and their  established ecosystems?  There are so many questions that need to be asked of the NFS, entrusted as stewards of our lands.

I have included NFS contact below for your comments and questions:

February 9, 2015

Mother of Waters

I have included photos of northern Minnesota and the Wisconsin and UP shorelines, with a link to my comments on the SDEIS and North Met’s proposed copper mine (submitted in 2014 with over 40,000 other comments: sdeis-comment-web).

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February 6, 2015

What will the Trans-Pacific Partnership do for artists?

It’s been a long time since I started painting and writing, now over 65 years. It has been and always will be a love. I do it for the love of beauty, for the things that I feel need expression, and as I told someone recently … beauty is not always pretty. You see it in the courage of someone whose trials are heavy and whose courage is strong in the face of all trials… you see it in people who continue to find kindness in their hearts when life has not been too kind to them.

This is why I find the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement so adverse to everything I hold dear. It stifles individual creativity to back corporate profits and corporate taking. It allows only those with power to dictate to the rest of us and tramples this creative force.

Copyright was an idea brought into the play and supported by business, by those who profit from the works of others. Artists and writers have naturally shared their work through the centuries … it is for love that most works exist and it is only love that will endure without manipulation and without contrived vehicles like copyright laws.

In a society where all of us benefit from these resources, artists and writers would be supported to do their work for the good of all. How many stories would have been lost, how much traditional music would have never been heard and shared, built upon … if creative work was done for profit?

Mine is only an opinion; but I believe that art is a gift to be shared. In a society with elevated priorities, it would be appreciated for its true value … and that is not the money it might make.

February 6, 2015

No Place for a Mine


The Watershed of the St Louis River, headwaters at Seven Beaver Lake in St Louis County east of Babbitt in the Arrowhead of Minnesota on the “Big Stoney” and extreme headwaters of the St Lawrence River is a major source of the greatest freshwater reserves in the world, the Great Lakes. Lake Superior which grew from Lake Duluth into what it is today has been fed for thousands of years by the St Louis River. In addition, the great Mississippi River and the Rainy River have also been fed by groundwater from this region, that of the Arrowhead in Minnesota. The full extent of what lies under and within the massive billion year stone aquifers of St Louis and Cook counties in northeastern Minnesota has yet to be determined. We would be remiss to establish a copper mine in and around this area or continue with any destructive practices that might pollute our most precious resource.

The decision on whether to allow copper mining in St Louis County at the headwaters of the St Louis River has been placed in the hands of the MDNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources, Environmental Review Unit, 500 Lafayette Road, Box 25, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025. Their final Environmental Impact Statement will be given for public comment after review of over 40,000 comments made on the last environmental assessment (SDEIS) in 2014.

I believe that the St Louis watershed is as important for the health of our planet as Bristol Bay and the salmon spawning and fishing grounds are in Alaska … both priceless reserves of water and wildlife, which we cannot allow to be polluted at any price. Please support the EPA in their attempts to regulate the mining industry and prevent the destruction of the wilderness, and these invaluable water resources. Watch for the final determinations by the EPA on Bristol Bay, and the FEIS from the MDNR of Ecological Resources Environmental Unit in Minnesota.

I have included a few resources below for contact and information:

January 14, 2015

Does enactment of the Keystone XL Pipeline Act make sense? Will any amendments make it right? Please ask President Obama to veto this legislation.

Act S.1 was passed by the US Senate.  Debate over and voting on amendments will progress before sending the bill for signing to President Obama’s desk.  Our elected officials need to know that we need clean water more than tar sands oil, with a glut of oil on the market and a need for clean alternatives that do not put at risk our water and air.

We can benefit from time by not fast-tracking extension of a failing delivery system for a product that has better, more productive and profitable alternatives.  One of the flawed arguments is that “if we don’t build the pipeline, there will be more trains delivering crude”:

  • Simply because the oil can be sent by pipeline does not negate the fact that oil will also continue to be sent by rail … whatever way is necessary to get to market; and, as a consequence, it will also find its way into our aquifers whether by rail or pipeline, both methods of delivery are fragile and fail.
  • Even if, as some hope, rail delivery was reduced, the fact remains that, when pipelines fail, they fail out of sight and underground … often leaking for more time than a rail spill before being noticed.  How many are leaking without notice today?

It is said that the pipeline will “grow our economy”.

  • TransCanada is a foreign corporation. They will be making the profit.
  • In the two years that this pipeline will take to build, 42 thousand short-term construction jobs will be available. In the end, there will be 35 permanent jobs in place.
  • The oil will be shipped overseas to places like China after it travels through aquifers in the Midwest, leaking (as these pipelines do regularly) to be refined by international corporate plants in Texas.
  • The price of oil is falling.
  • There is a glut of oil due to overproduction.
  • The trend is toward cleaner and more efficient energy for reasons too diverse and many to list here.
  • Alternative energies like solar would create more jobs and better infrastructure for long–term use of our planet’s resources.
  • How will poisoning our aquifers with tar sands oil, whether by rail or pipeline, grow a sustainable economy?
  • Who will shoulder the repercussions for inevitable pollution and the cost of clean-up?
  • Even if we used American steel for the pipeline, who will benefit and for how long? What more pollution will be created from the mining?
  • If an amendment were proposed to sell TransCanada’s tar sands oil here instead of overseas, would we have enough buyers at prices necessary to make this destructive, filthy, water-polluting, chemical-ridden, expensive process worthwhile?
  • We don’t essentially need another pipeline: Pipelines running from Hardisty, Alberta, to Flanagan, Illinois opened in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and a third pipeline from Flanagan to Cushing, Oklahoma in 2014. This does not include a major expansion of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline in Wisconsin that would carry more of this heavy crude than Keystone XL line has been designed to carry. There are others …. One need only look in Minnesota of 10,000 lakes to know that while we are fighting the high profile XL pipeline, others will be quietly sending and spilling crude into our aquifers ongoing ….

Another argument that fails the test of logic: “Keystone XL will give us greater national security”.

  • How does polluting our ground and water make this country safer?
  • How do we reduce our dependence on foreign oil by sending it out of the country?
  • How would we be more independent if foreign corporations are allowed to use eminent domain to access US lands that they need to make profit,while preventing US citizens from protecting their lands and waters …?
  • How are we safer by fast tracking another pipeline without the necessary oversight?

The argument that this will “build infrastructure we need” is a false one.

  • The most important thing we have to do now in an environment of increasing natural emergencies due to global climate extremes is to build infrastructure that will support a cleaner fuel and reduce our carbon imprint.
  • We need infrastructure, not for pipelines or oil trains, but for more efficient sustainable growth that promotes life not profit at all costs.
  • We need only look at who will benefit and who will profit from proposed infrastructure projects to know whether we need them or not.




December 30, 2014

The Truth About Social Security …

Over the past several years, it has become clear to me that there is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning social security … a savings account made possible through regular paycheck contributions. Therefore, it is not part of the national budget, but a trust account. If one didn’t pay into the account, one would not receive social security; and one receives only what has been earned. In that regard, it is an entitlement … a trust between the government and its citizens that their savings would be there when they retired.

Social Security was never intended to be an investment program, privatized for the profit of Wall Street executives and investors who have the money to gamble. Money has been taken from the pay checks of so-called “baby boomers” at twice the previous rate of the generation before, to build a surplus that will fund retirees into 2035; and with modest changes could see us into the foreseeable future, keeping social security solvent for all. Worrying the younger generation needlessly with misconceptions about the solvency of this program, and pitting one generation against another plays only into the hands of Wall Street and does not secure a future for the younger generation.

Privatizing social security would put secure funds at risk subject to the whims and manipulations of the market, leaving the working generation responsible for paying taxes to support what the baby boomers had already paid for, in addition to funding their own market accounts and paying transition costs of switching to privatized accounts (estimated at nearly $5 trillion over the first twenty years).

A bad trade at best, privatized accounts in lieu of Social Security Benefits would make us all less secure.

December 23, 2014

Good news for the wolf …


… as U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell determines that delisting the wolf was a flawed decision; and has banned further hunting. An additional two hundred and seventy two wolves were killed this season in Minnesota alone, adding to the total lost since 2012 … and so, this decision is a welcome one.

In the week of the winter solstice, as the wolves prepare their dens and will soon be raising young, may you all have a peace-filled holiday season!


November 26, 2014

on the subject of Mike Brown …

We should all be concerned about the killing of an unarmed man, Mike Brown, by the officer, Darren Wilson, sworn to “protect and defend”.  We should also wonder about the time factor involved in taking eye witness accounts and photos. Undisputed facts have not changed.

  • There were no photos of the officer at the scene of the crime by official investigators. In fact, Darren Wilson left the scene of the crime, while Mike Brown’s body lay on the street.
  • There were no photos of the police officer’s car on the street, at the crime scene, at the time. This should have been done immediately in the time that Mike Brown lay unattended by paramedics in the street.
  • Darren Wilson did not make a police report, which should have been a number one priority.
  • There were no police videos of eye witness accounts at the scene of the crime or immediately after the killing. Time distorts and memories fail.
  • Reports from coroners show that a bullet entered the top of Mike Brown’s head, the bullet that killed him, after 12 shots. Why was it necessary to put a bullet through the top of his head?
  • Why 12 shots? Could some other innocent have been killed by this officer’s rage or fear? He claims fear, though he was armed and a very large man as well … with a gun.
  • Darren Wilson was unarmed.
  • An angry face does not, in my view, warrant a killing. Why was Darren Wilson unable to disable Mike Brown (if he was charging, which is still disputed) instead of killing him? A shot to his foot, maybe?
  • Do we know the full history of this officer? Where was he trained and how much experience?
  • Why do eyewitness accounts at the time and of those closest, who said that Mike Brown was holding his hands up when he turned around to face the officer, to tell him that he did not have a gun … why do these accounts hold so little sway?

There are so many questions. Darren Wilson, at the very least, is an officer that did not discharge his duty as a public servant to “protect and defend” anyone but himself. He used excessive force with a teenager that had not been guilty of any crime who was simply walking in the street going home. The young black man, on his way to college this fall, did not deserve to die for being angry either.


October 27, 2014

Stonehenge Origins

Stonehenge: The Clearing

In regard to Stonehenge, it is important for a bigger picture to  consider the effect of farming cultures moving in to the British Isles, the sacrifices found at Stonehenge (one of an archer) the charred remains of people and animals (cremation of animals or food waste?), at henges made of wood in particular … the prime possibility that there was genocide, people burned at the stake (since there is evidence of charred remains at the posts holes in the wood henges) all of which could have occurred, displacing hunters and gatherers to the benefit of the agricultural community and the mining of metals. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Stonehenge in its final stage coexisted with wood henges. Were these political statements of sorts? One favoring the predominance of forests, one the elimination of these same forests for cultivation of food? Evidence of monuments to man and his beliefs can be found throughout our written history. Why not before?

All cultures have been fascinated by the heavens, by the sun, stars and moon … this is nothing new. It is also not news that powerful people require means to indoctrinate the masses to further the changes that they would like to see in society; and it is not much of a leap, either, to understand how farming became a way to gather more land and therefore more power.

We are familiar, as well, how the beliefs of indigenous cultures can be used to inculcate a system that supports the agendas of powerful people … time and time again. The hunter-gatherers were more or less nomads, moving with the wild and benefiting from the forests. Some would train wolves to guard and herd a few domesticated animals; but, on the whole, this did not take on the scale of farming methods brought in by the Europeans. It might have been a benefit, therefore, to use pagan rituals to create a system that would support the farming culture, and thus Stonehenge in its final stage, created not only to predict the changing seasons but to promote the change to farming in society through ritual and sacrifice (eg the Mayans).

Farming brought increased populations to the area because of the greater abundance of food, which then produced and required more tilled soil and less forest. So many studies make no distinction between the indigenous populations that created earlier versions of the henge in wood to the final Stonehenge created from stone. It is also interesting that attribution is not only made to the pagans, who had thrived off forests for thousands of years, but also to the “druids”,with little evidence of their existence before 200 BC; when, in fact, construction of the “stone” henge built by 2500BC, the one we see today, was a practice brought by those European farmers who immigrated to the isles during that time. It seems most likely that it was under this particular influence that the stone monuments and burial mounds were built.

By 2500 BC, metals were brought to England and then all hell broke loose. By 2000 BC most of the forests that covered the British Isles were a memory. I hardly think the culture that had practiced sustainability for thousands of years, like the indigenous peoples in Alaska and northern Minnesota would have built stone monuments that supported a practice to destroy their base.

I wonder, sometimes, if we aren’t hard-wired to destroy ourselves. Nothing else makes sense in my limited view. One thing’s for certain, if we don’t know the truth and we don’t live with our eyes wide open, we can never find a better way.

This painting is my vision of Stonehenge as a monument to the new culture of farming with the ghosts of a forest in the background as the land is cleared.

October 8, 2014

Into Blue

Into Blue

The Earth weeps in silent tears
And torrents coursing through,
Flowing into pools and streams
Tumbling into blue,
Through mountains blown and fields of black,
In once verdant forests, dead,
Pools, lakes and eddies fouled
Spring from the watershed;
And as Earth weeps, rivers flow
Through wetlands, hills and cranny,
Through rock and clay, soot and sand,
Cascading to the sea.
Distilled within, unspoken,
Mankind’s final deadly game,
To reach the summit’s Holy Grail
Lucre as thy name;
Deaf to nature’s songs and moods,
Heedless to beauty’s lore,
Intemperance in its surly grasp,
Callous to the core;
And so, in tides, Earth’s tears abide
On beaches born and bled
From rivers running ever,
Rising from the watershed,
In dreams drawn and silenced
From torrents coursing through,
Flowing into pools and streams
Tumbling into blue.
Oil train crossing a midwest prairie

Oil train crossing a midwest prairie

Anita Suzanne Tillemans, October 2014

October 6, 2014

no place for mining …

Loon on a lake in the Arrowhead

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September 17, 2014

Comments due September 19, 2014 on EPA’s 404(c) proposal for Bristol Bay

EPA’s proposed 404 (c) determination for areas in Bristol Bay would limit pollution of designated waterways, watersheds in this controversial area.

Copper mining, as it has been proposed in northern Minnesota, would drastically affect this environment, changing the ecosystem forever.

Please submit your comments before the deadline September 19, 2014 showing support for the 404(c) designation by email to by putting EPA-R10-OW-2014-0505 in the subject line.

(The proposed determination can be found at: and you can also send your questions to the project team at:

Musings Posts concerning Bristol Bay:



August 25, 2014

Rest in Peace Michael Brown.


August 19, 2014

By Any Other Name

In the news again, the killing of another black man, a man without a gun, deprived of his life for what?  Are there any words that can make this right? As we ponder the details in facts that are now being disputed, we should not lose sight of key elements in this latest shooting that are not. The killing of Michael Brown by a police officer, sworn to protect and defend, took the life of an unarmed man.

Concerning the grieving community and loss of this young man, have the Ferguson police acted in the interest of justice for all? Were family members given information needed at the occasion of their loss? Why was the police officer allowed to go free without booking? Were photos taken immediately of all parties, and key witness accounts documented at the scene of the crime? If this armed police officer felt threatened after he drove his car in front of the two young men, then why didn’t he call for back-up? What would have justified shooting Michael Brown over six times, killing him with a bullet through the top of his head, execution style? What is the history of this police officer prior to being sworn in? We are hearing information about the deceased man who cannot defend himself … why not more than hearsay about the officer who can defend himself?

An unarmed man is dead … shot to death by a police officer that stopped him because he was walking in the middle of the street. Other questions come to mind:

What prompted the use of deadly force on a young man who had surrendered with his arms in the air according to all witness accounts?

Why were photos not taken of all parties at the scene, at the time of the crime in order to protect the officer in a court of law, since Officer Wilson says he was attacked? Evidence produced untimely, cannot be taken without some pause as secondary to evidence at the scene and time of the crime.

Why were paramedics not allowed to attempt a resuscitation as this young man lay on the street for hours and with no examination for vital signs?

Many of the comments given in support of Darren Wilson seem to be prompted by fear, fear that has the effect of dehumanizing his victim, and associating Michael with the ”crime” of being black. Have we progressed so little that simply by having a different color of skin, de facto, a young man shall still have no right to justice in a country that has suffered this shame too long? Perhaps our history of treatment toward black men and women has finally come to a standstill and racist comments will finally be shown the door with all the shame due them.

Darren Wilson has a right to a fair trial … more than he gave Michael Brown; but he must go to trial for justice to be had; and there can be no justice for Michael Brown without it.  One thing is for certain, justice can never be had at the point of a gun; and no words will make it right.

July 28, 2014

Transitions …

The Nature of Intelligence and the Process of Peace

I have long appreciated an interpretation of Lao Tzu’s Tao Teh King by Archie J Bahm, who was a professor of philosophy at the University of New Mexico in the 1950’s. He interpreted “tao teh king” as “nature and intelligence”, and so appreciated Lao Tzu the scholar, librarian, and a man who did not intend his writings as “religion”, but a handbook on living intelligently through observation of the natural order. In this essay, I have taken from Professor Bahm’s text, published by Frederick Ungar Publishing Company, New York; and cited where necessary integrating with my own philosophy – a philosophy that has in part developed in the light of Lao Tzu’s great book and Archie Bahm’s insightful words.

At the basis of all, it appears, that for peace to reign one must “accept what is as it is” and in doing so “teach by example” [p 12 II]. “All distinctions naturally appear as opposites” and “opposites get their meaning from each other (finding) their completion only through each other” [p 12, II]. It follows, then, that “in conflicts between opposites, the more one attacks his seeming opponent … the more he defeats himself (and thereby demonstrates that only Nature, and not any opposite abstracted from existence) is self-sufficient [p14 V].

Acting with acceptance, essentially, we move closer to this ideal of self-sufficiency, a state that is necessary for freedom and a condition for any long lasting peace. Essential to this process is a healthy respect for, and acceptance of oneself, first and foremost, outside of the opinions of others. As a consequence our hearts turn outward and can accept the differences and the natures of others, in turn, allowing a process of peace to occur through respect, fostering freedom for others to act according to their own true needs.

Once achieved, “acceptance makes no distinctions of superiority and inferiority [p13, III]” and then true devotion to tasks rather than rivalries will prevail; envy being unaroused, people will be satisfied with things as they are [paraphrased from p 13, III]; understanding that “Nature contains nothing but natures; and these natures are nothing over and above Nature” [p 14, IV] … each and every thing being an essential part of the whole.

While Nature treats opposites impartially, the “best way to conduct oneself may be observed in the behavior of water’. “Water is useful to every living thing, yet it does not demand pay in return for its services; it does not even require that it be recognized, esteemed, or appreciated for its benefits” [p 16, VIII]. And yet, there is no life without it.

“This illustrates how intelligent behaviors closely approximate the behavior of Nature itself” [p 16, VIII].

“If experience teaches that houses should be built close to the ground,

That friendship should be based upon sympathy and good will,

That good government employs peaceful means of regulation,

That business is more successful if it employs efficient methods,

That wise behavior adapts itself appropriately to the particular circumstances,

All of this is because these are the easiest ways.

If one proceeds naturally, without ambition or envy, everything works out for the best” [p16, VIII].

Entities based on money are not drawn toward the easiest means, but the most profitable. As an example, multi-national corporations ship materials to other countries for processing by poorly paid workers for markets at the source, wasting resources, energies so that a few can profit from the desperation of many. There is no efficiency or real intelligence in these means and these inefficiencies foresee their ends.

Troubled societies, as we are experiencing now, based on money, elevating paid services and profit confuse the means with the ends; and our end, according to the Tao, is to “realize the potentialities of (our) indescribable original nature(s)” [p17, X].

Nature “procreates all things and then devotes itself to caring for them … willingly gives life, without first asking whether creatures will repay for its services” and, so, it “provides a pattern to follow, without requiring anyone to follow it. This is the nature of intelligent activity” [p18, X]. Concerned with genuine needs we avoid being confused by the superficial and can distinguish one from the other.

In this troubled world, temptations based on what money can buy, on capital gains lead to extremes. The very thing Lao Tzu advised against. Envy, greed and aggressive behavior trump intelligent activity and our original natures are sacrificed to the cruel intentions of those who would force their wills on others – all to obtain more of what will never bring anyone true happiness, and therefore, peace. In the end, Nature will do as it always does, impartially allowing the inherent initiation and completion of all things, without prejudice … our actions spelling our fates.

This is why, now more than ever, we must concern ourselves with our own inner peace. It is, as the Tao explained, of primary importance. “The inner self is our true self” and “in order to realize our true self, we must be willing to live without being dependent upon the opinions of others” [p20, XIII]. As a consequence of this “self-sufficiency” we will then act accordingly and feel no need to force others to our own will.

Assertions, envy, and actions out of sync with ourselves, in essence, upset the balance and provide endless opportunity for strife. We are all better served when individuals are given the opportunity to develop fully, truly. War is a sign that this is not happening.lost innocents / wars monument / ptg

Opposition, being inherent in Nature, as are the principles of initiation and completion, is eternal. As we start acting naturally, by being ourselves, this will be accepted and extreme measures avoided.

The nature of intelligence then, like water, finds the path of least resistance and avoids conflict. Inner peace augments the natural order. Accepting that there is a beginning and end to all things, that opposition is perpetual, a defining element and source of growth, we will take the middle ground in our disagreements.

Over two thousand years ago, Lao Tzu understood that the source of peace lies within. Wise individuals who had found this peace have spoken. Yet we continue to make distinctions, passing judgment and acting out of these misconceptions. When we understand as a society and act accordingly, allowing each thing to realize its true nature, more people are likely to find peace in their lives.

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

July 28, 2014


July 15, 2014

Where are the hyacinths?

I have just read the Southwest Journal’s article on Linden Crossing:

As expected, the height variance to five stories was approved by the committee over majority opinion in Linden Hills. Diversity is not what is happening here. Higher density in the lakes area means higher taxes, higher rents, and richer clients. In order to afford the cost of living, “diversity” will move out. Retired folks on fixed incomes, people living humbly, young families with limited resources … will not be able to live in Linden Hills reasonably. The future has arrived!

As usual, money prevails … money that requires higher populations to make more money. We will have our higher density, our restaurants and entertainment, our city to “brag” about. We will have our party town. Money to burn mowing school lawns and renovating school buildings in the richer communities, money to build another stadium, capital improvements for our orchestra, renovations to the Nicollet Mall with open air staircases (during winter months?), a light rail tunnel between two lakes in the water-logged area between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles. They will be draining the water table in that wetland as they are continuing to do in Linden Hills with ongoing development.  As an added note, this water is drained into city sewers …. The drama goes on.

Eventually … there will be no space for a tree, not the size that lined our beautiful boulevards and the lakes when I came to Minneapolis. Progress, I guess.  Hyacinths for the soul anyone?

July 12, 2014

The Spirit Tree

There was a white pine, as there were so many long ago. It stood straight and tall, sheltering animals of all kinds including the people who stopped to get out of the hot sun and cold winter winds. The needles soft and green would, in autumn, turn reddish brown and fall upon the earth mulching the ground around. The birds would make their nests and perch to sing in its branches. The squirrels made their nests as well.

After it had stood for 50 years with no complaint, one day the city came by to tell its owner to cut the branches, that they were a nuisance unless 7 feet above the sidewalk. To comply, the owner cut these branches for the first time.

There was a sawhet owl one night over the mailbox looking over this owner as she came home in the wee hours after work. There were others, hawks and eagles that stopped to rest in its branches and snow geese that rested in the yard on their migration south.

In 2012 on the Friday before Father’s Day, as the Lake Harriet Lower Campus prepared to build an addition, a trailer was placed in the parking lot of the school to mark the beginnings of a project that was to last until summer months of 2013, while rain came pouring down. It was that Sunday that the pine was struck with what appeared to be lightning out of the blue gray gentle rain.

After two years, the white pine has weakened. It struggled to heal as the owner had branches trimmed that died from the strike. Still growing and green until the effects of this last harsh winter dealt the final blow. Contract for removal was made after school was dismissed for safety reasons and until it could be determined that the pine would not survive.  Within a week of this the city sent a nuisance complaint.

Goodbye old friend. We will miss you in Linden Hills!

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July 6, 2014

Of Love and Money

18There is no question for which love is not the answer. We are all sacrifices to love or hate. Which would you choose? Indifference is no option. There is no life in that.

My father told me that if you do what you love, the money will follow. Perhaps I rebelled at the thought because money was not my goal or my idea of happiness. I saw too many with money and hearts grown cold and indifferent.

In South America, surrounded by 9 foot fences topped with barbed wire, or with bars on the windows and doors of their homes, the rich would guard themselves while poor children with swollen bellies ran barefoot and in rags, or naked, outside gated communities and schools. I saw this from the time I was four until I left Venezuela at nine. It made an indelible impression. From bus windows I saw the old and weary eating from scraps in tin cans burning in the heat, children without a hope and no opportunity for an education.

This, I learned, was the state of many in the world outside of our middle class havens in the US, where even there, in our poorest communities, children went to bed hungry … now more than ever. If money was the answer, then why so much suffering while a few lived in luxury?

Of course, my father was much deeper than his words. He simply understood that money was a tool that made dreams possible. As time went by, though, the demands of life weighed upon him and he was, like so many, pressed into the service of money. I saw what this master did to gentle souls like his. Too many broken lives are made in the path of this, what should be no more than utilitarian.

Even so, it’s hard to understand why I refrained much of the time from my practice in art, a practice that gives me joy. Did I expect perfection and feel unworthy? I procrastinated and excused my delays. I stubbornly refused, at times, to paint even though drawn, often finding things to do, no matter how mundane, or useless, to divert and exhaust my energies. Painting from my heart is a desire for truth, to understand, to discover and this has its own rewards. I understand now that it is the process that gives me joy.

Since this realization, the practice comes easier … freed from expectations. This is a difficult thing to explain to most people; and it’s been an understanding hard won for me. Art is an expression of beauty. It comes from appreciation of things outside our selves, universal truths. We see and know. We show our appreciation, our love, through action. That action takes as many forms as there are souls.

Being a woman, as women are poorly represented in galleries and museums, I understood early that it would be a battle, most likely lost, to seek recognition and make a living at art. As a consequence, the battle raged inside as I took part-time wages for support of my love, while I raised two children.

More women artists than not have been left in obscurity by the decision-makers, the ones who decide “what is art.” Money and power working hand in hand. In fact, by this very act, words have played a role in the perversion of truth in practice of visual arts. The percentage of artists represented in museums who are women is in the single digits. How can this be if these institutions represented the variety and depth of artistic practice and appreciation truly? As we evolve, perhaps that day will come when substance will not be sacrificed to maintain the status quo and money will hold no power over people’s souls.


July 5, 2014

Defenders of our Wilderness

Wolves in Minnesota stand at the forefront of our wilderness, a wilderness that is increasingly under stress from development.  That development includes unsustainable practices of mining ore and delivering crude underground in pipes through the heart of our aquifers in this state.

Wolves, in fact, create a healthier more viable world by gleaning old and diseased animals from the stock of deer, moose and other prey.  As hunters’ traps are set out, how many domestic animals will be killed again this coming hunt.

These creatures are an apex preditor and, therefore, not like any other fur-bearing animal – rabbit, fox, beaver …. and yet the Minnesota legislature decided to list them as small game, refusing, as well to stand by the promise of a five-year hunting moratorium until numbers and viability of wolf populations in this state could be determined.

Please take a look at the marvelous video at projects 645287247 medicine of the wolf and link below:

Trophy hunting and the destruction of a treasure like this should be haulted and our priorities reconsidered as we all stand at a crossroads.  What will we choose?


May 29, 2014

The Mining Scenario

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

Moose in the Arrowhead … already affected by global warming

There was a time along the north shore of Minnesota when paper birch and mountain ash thrived. This was before mining in the Minnesota Iron Range sent its tentacles to the North Shore and a town now known as Silver Bay. Along with jobs came the inevitable pollution of water, land and air as a coal-fired plant started up along the shore, along with dumping of taconite tailings into the pristine waters of Lake Superior. This has had a lasting effect on the entire north shore.

Although the dumping of tailings was stopped by Judge Miles Lord in the 70’s, the coal plant remains and the taconite tailings basins are not far from shore. One night stay in Silver Bay, as I walked outside on a fall night, the plumes of this plant blew decidedly north along the Lake Superior shore. This is when I realized what had happened to the birch and the mountain ash.

What are we doing to this world? What madness decides that ores of any kind trump clean water, air and land? The last thing we need in the heart of this treasure is another mine or coal-fired plant. What of sane and sustainable infrastructure that promotes and protects the land and waters of the Arrowhead a major source of freshwater in the world?

My comments on the Polymet proposed copper mine:



May 7, 2014

“Money has never made a man happy …” Ben Franklin

Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it.  There is nothing in its nature to produce happiness.  The more a man has, the more he wants.  Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.

Benjamin Franklin 

April 25, 2014

Gifts …

18What’s happening in this world today is disastrous … global warming from man’s over-production, over-population, greed and corruption, worship of money and power — loss of natural resources, deforestation, pollution, fear and malice ….

It’s happening because we developed tools more rapidly than we have evolved to deal with the consequences of our advances.  We’ve developed to “survive” at all costs, while making a good life easier for some and impossible for most.  We have been fruitful and multiplied without limitations beyond war and destruction.  We believe what we want, selectively choosing those facts that suit our prejudices and discarding the facts that should give us pause.  We’ve lost a sense of justice and moderation in our dealings and for all intents and purposes destroyed an essential balance.

What we’re facing now is annihilation by those very instruments that have been propagandized as making our lives better.  Mankind has taken the brake off the train as it begins its descent.

What can we do about it?  The challenge for me has never been indifference but a sense of futility.  In these times, our direction seems decidedly toward mass destruction.  With the threat of nuclear war looming, what toll would describe the loss if this played out?  What have we wasted in human potential at this point?

What does it mean to hold a mirror up and affect change, to be open to creation as a child?  This is essentially what a creative does.  It is what it means to be an artist — perpetually investigating and challenging.

The image we hold up to the world is our experience — the more individual, more honest that image, the more meaningful.  At the point where our lives, our work intersect with universal truths, the more apt we are to connect with others.  This is what life is about … a symbiotic relationship and balance, that creates and destroys.

What each of us contribute to the fabric of life is as dear, as essential as any other.  The challenge has always been to follow your own heart within the constraints of an environment that may often be harsh and contradictory.  Moderation, the key, and truth, the answer as we pursue our individual paths.


From Ecclesiastes 3 in the King James version:

Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven …

April 9, 2014




Endless sea waves foam and sway
Stones to gem-like polish.
There in tide pools made a home
Beguiling to a starfish.
Water sighing in the waves
On rocks and sandy shore,
Filled the pools with newborn life
Treasures to behold.
Some in pensive mood
Beckoned by their muse,
Lingered long in passing
To understand the truth.
Others frenzied in a rush,
Would not pause and could not see
Crushed beneath their restless soles


April 2, 2014

Into the Blue


Passions find outlet for all of us, whether destructive or creative, sublimated or expressed. With so much imagination collectively, these manifestations can often be a force for destruction … especially when our passions are perverted and misdirected. We find examples of this in all walks of life; and each one of us can find examples in our own life.

Art, music, children, nature have always offered an outlet for understanding because of the propensity to wonder in each. There is freedom in our ability to imagine, to explore and grow through our experiences and no one finds joy in a cage. There are always limits to the freedoms, though; but these are part of learning to function in a society with respect for the rights of others and their freedoms. Any activity that pollutes water and air, destroys our lands, our mountains and leaves devastation behind is not, by definition, sustainable … no matter what words are used to describe these activities.

We fight when an act of war is declared. What do we do, then, when the same effects can be seen all around us … by any other name? What is it called when corporations pollute our waters, our air, our land, our food, destroy mountain tops, disrupt the bedrock, clear cut forests, creating earthquakes and mudslides, avalanches and massive loss of life, animal and human?

This will be a time of important decisions … and action, because words are nothing without it.  I believe it was George Washington that said “vindicate our rights with firmness and cultivate peace with sincerity”.  We might look to our forefathers, then, and the constitution for some of the answers sought today in protecting hard fought individual freedoms with due vigilance.

March 22, 2014

Children sent comments on Bristol Bay …

EPA replies were primarily directed at technical commenters … but what a plea for change to see the youngest of us getting involved in what will definitely affect their futures, each and every one.

Read the EPA letter concerning the process of review under 404  (c).

Responses to public comments for the May 2012 and April 2013 Drafts of the assessments of Potential Mining Impacts On Salmon Ecosystems of Bristol Bay, Alaska can be found  for 2012 and 2013 at:

March 21, 2014



With Spring at hand I wonder:

Why does the human race seem hell bent on its own destruction?

All of us are part of the equation, all life has its “good” and its “bad” relatively speaking.  No one wants to die … too soon.  So why do we rush headlong into the abyss?

Are there solutions, feasible and long term, to overpopulation other than war and destruction?

All of us want a place, a time, a little bit of happiness.  All of us need to be loved, to be appreciated and be able to show our love and appreciation.  None of this is new or surprising.  So true, almost cliche.

Every child needs to know when it comes into this world that it is part of the fabric of life, part of the “family”.  How many feel this?  Is it because we have too few resources and time to provide this kind of quality attention?  The more that one feels the responsibility and the necessity of honoring every life, maybe we would find the answer.

March 18, 2014

Awaiting the vote on HF2680 to reinstate a moratorium on hunting and trapping our Minnesota Wolves

2_wolves_howling_mixed_mediaBefore doing the necessary studies to determine actual wolf populations, we have now had two wolf hunts in Minnesota.  There is no way to know whether their numbers are threatened without this survey and so the Senate has voted to re-instate a temporary moratorium on the wolf hunt until studies can be done.  There are other proposed changes as well:

After the 1930’s, the timber wolf was decimated in the lower 48 states leaving only Minnesota with original gray wolf populations, the only outside of Alaska in the United States.  Studies have shown also that populations of healthy wolves are controlled in great part by the diversity of the gene pool, diminishing the birth of pups and reducing the possibility of recovery in places where there is a lack of diversity as in Yellowstone and Isle Royale. The gene pool of wolves here in Minnesota is more diversified, being wild, and therefore priceless in the reestablishment of the species here and elsewhere. At last count we have almost half of the wolves extant in the lower 48.  Those numbers have been diminished greatly by two hunting seasons.

With the threat of copper mining looming if the Polymet is permitted (ROD due this fall and permit process already moving forward) the wolves will not be the only receptors of concern at risk. Protections of these apex predators would be a beginning.

Please contact your representatives and send a letter to Governor Dayton voicing your concern and support for reinstatement of a moratorium on hunting the timber wolf. Your representatives in the house need to hear from you concerning HF 2680.

I am including Senator Scott Dibble’s response on April 13th, 2012 in part, to these concerns below:

“Prior to 1974 when wolves were unprotected in Minnesota, the wolf population fell to below 400.  Since then, after they were added to the federal Endangered Species List and also classified as threatened by the State of Minnesota, their population has grown to somewhere between 2,200 and 3,500.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) tells us that absent a hunting and trapping season, the population has been stable since 1998.  Exact numbers are not known, hence the need for more data and better diligence.

… Owners of livestock, guard animals, and domestic animals are already allowed to shoot wolves that pose a threat to their animals.  The state also compensates farmers for livestock lost to wolves.  In 2001, the DNR’s Wolf Management Plan, created with the help of more than two dozen stakeholders, called for a five year moratorium on the taking of wolves following federal delisting from the Endangered Species List.  I will work to see that the DNR’s original plan is implemented so that careful planning will not be pre-empted by this legislative rush to open up a wolf hunt.”


March 10, 2014

Troubles with the RO process that will be used by Polymet?

Average annual water required for mine operations has been estimated at275 gpm, or between 20-810 gpm for this report.   lf we were to accept these numbers, then uses could vary from as little as 10,512,000 gallons of water per year or as much as 425,736,000 gallons per year. Greater than 90% of this water would be captured and treated using reverse osmosis, a process that poses risks as outlined in 2006 by the World Health Organization’s report in Geneva, Nutrients in Drinking Water, Chapter 12.

According to studies done since the 1960’s when reverse osmosis filtration began, demineralized water has proved dangerous in many ways. lt will aggressively attack contacted materials by dissolving metals and some organic substances in pipes, storage tanks, hose lines and fittings. Because of this, it poses an increased risk of filtering toxic metals into the groundwater, wetlands and streams at the source and particularly downstream. Time would be an important factor in determining the extent of damage to various plants and animals in the watersheds. 

Without the protective or antitoxic protection of calcium and magnesium additional, increased risk of cardiovascular disease occurs in humans from drinking water treated by RO, and reserve minerals in the body are often depleted. This in time results in other adverse effects on animal and human organisms. 

Filters and membranes are subject to bacterial growths and would present their own problems.  Significant factors are:  toxins from the filters or membranes would be highly concentrated, and the problem of disposal would remain. Has the SDEIS calculated the very real danger of RO processed waters on plant and animal organisms as well as the disposal of these concentrated toxins?

March 10, 2014

Glacial waters and ancient lands in Northeastern Minnesota

The Arrowhead region is one of the crowning ecological jewels of this world. The National Forest Service is mandated to protect water resources as a number one priority. lf not here, then where? The no mining alternative is, above all, a choice for environmental diversity and sustainability. People will pay to enjoy wilderness and this area is renowned for its beauty, its waters. Entrusted to us, will we fail to shield this wilderness from exploitation, or will we protect our base by preserving this planet’s most vital resource, starting with “the mother of waters’”in the Lake Superior Basin?

February 4, 2014

Woods and Waterways of Northern Minnesota

Over the past forty plus years I have traveled the Arrowhead of Minnesota. My first visit in the late 6o’s presented a view I had never knew existed in this world … even though I had lived in over twenty different places as I grew … from the tropical forests of South America, to the Pacific Ocean and the varied landscape of California, the swamps and bayous of Louisiana, the plains of South Dakota and the mountains of Colorado. It was not spectacular in the same way as the mountains, nor as lush as the jungles of South America, or as eerily deep and unfathomable as the ocean, or varied in climate and environment as that of California, or immense as the redwoods and sequoias. Minnesota had this quiet, livable and almost benign sense about it when I arrived in the fall of 1968. It wasn’t until I spent my first winter here and traveled the Arrowhead that I began to understand the true meaning of wilderness. Lake Superior was beyond my comprehension at the time … a sea of freshwater. Loving the ocean and familiar with the smell of salt, it was unusual to see so much freshwater cascading down the stoney embankments in Cook County especially … into this huge reservoir of the Great Lakes.  At first I missed the smell of salt, but I grew to love the implications of this treasure. Only recently, as I looked on geological and topographical maps of the area, did I begin to understand the full meaning of this environment. It struck me in such a way that I felt compelled to share some of the photos I have taken over these past 40 plus years as we face the prospect of copper mining in this priceless reserve of freshwater for the world. There are over sixty rivers, creeks and falls in the area.  One of these is Devil’s Kettle Falls on the Brule where water diverges into two streams, one flowing to Lake Superior and the other discharging underground to places unknown. Shouldn’t we understand the waterways in northeastern Minnesota better before considering further mining of any kind?

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

February 5, 2014

January 31, 2014

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 they could find in lands of the Ojibwe, abundant and fruitful, forested wetlands of what we now know as 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

January 31, 2014

September 1, 2013

How will the city of Minneapolis protect our canopy by cutting it down?

In order to “protect” our canopy of trees from the emerald ash borer, the city of Minneapolis intends to “replace” the boulevard ash trees… some very old healthy trees with no sign of disease rather than treat. How do we protect our canopy by cutting it down? Each property owner can request this “replacement” or pay for treatment.

Why not plant new trees within a reasonable distance under the shade of these beautiful trees? They will grow better, will need less water and have a better chance at maturing. Some old healthier ash trees may live a long time yet and continue to provide our city with a beautiful, cooling canopy.

June 27, 2013

Land of Frac Sand (SE Minnesota Bluff Country)

December 10, 2012

A Case for writ of CERTIORARI in the case of Canis Lupus

If the wolf has grown to such a large “nuisance” population in Minnesota that it must be managed, then why does it take 6000 hunters to bag 400 pelts?
The fact is that the grey wolf’s preferred prey in this state is deer, not man, his stock, or his pets – taking only a fraction of the deer that Minnesota hunters kill each year. As a benefit, wolves contribute to healthier deer populations by taking the weaker animals, while the same cannot be said of man. Ordinarily shy as well, wolves are also territorial and so it is man’s encroachment that causes conflict.
It is crucial for our species to take a broader view concerning the wolf and see how its demise hurts us all. Do we truly believe that these takings are wise in the long term? How is it possible that we have failed to use rational thought to this extent, and allowed this killing to proceed without the necessary studies and, above all, caution? Do we honestly believe, as it would seem, that our species is the only one that has any relevance; and failed to see that access to wild land, clean air and water by other creatures, as well as man, determines a healthier life for all? The wolf’s survival and its access to wilderness, in essence, protects this resource for all.
For thousands of years Native Americans have understood that no one “owned” the land. They were stewards in the most profound sense and, like the wolf, respected nature’s cycles and maintained a balance with nature and its creatures. We could learn from their teachings, their respect and understanding of the inter-connectedness of man’s well-being with that of the wolf as well.
Is one “gullible” to protest when the wolf, without being a problem truly, is murdered, slaughtered, tortured through trapping, or hunted as vermin and for trophies? Since when did the DNR stop protecting our resources to preserve the rights of the few for this taking? The case against this hunt of our native populations of wolves should be taken up and defended for good reason.
Truth be told, the timber wolf of Minnesota is a treasure. It’s delisting off ESL and this hunt should be protested along with other hunts across the country. Canis lupus stands at a fraction of its original numbers worldwide. Fact. Minnesota has a diverse original wild gene pool that is priceless for future propagation. Fact. The size of that population is crucial. Fact. The DNR did not do the proper due diligence to determine its current numbers before allowing the 2012 hunt. Fact.
The wolf is important and beautiful because it is wild, and a prime indicator species that contributes to the health of this environment. Its populations notoriously disappear with the loss of wilderness. Through fear and historical competition with wolves for food, man had developed and has maintained an adversarial relationship. Times and conditions have changed. Shouldn’t we?
The wolf is a sentinel, a guardian of the wild, these diminishing wellsprings of life as crucial to our survival as that of the wolf. As the wolf goes, so goes the wilderness; and to understand why civilization cannot afford this, one need only review the long history of what has gone before – the facts.

Anita Suzanne Tillemans
December 4, 2012

October 26, 2012

Brother Against Brother

Thoughts on the upcoming Minnesota wolf hunt November 2012

How would we treat this planet if we saw wolf as our “brother” and earth as our “mother” ? 

Sigurd F Olson believed that the wolf was an impressive influence in the wilderness and that its removal could change a situation that has been in the making for centuries.   He saw how integrated its well-being was with the well-being of all creatures, and understood that artificial management of the wolf would change the character of the wilderness.defender of the wilderness, advocate of the BWCA and Superior-Quetico

Chief Seattle believed, like Olson, that all things are connected.  He understood, like John Donne, not to ask “for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”… for all of us.  Whatever happens to one essentially happens to all.  How can we continue to contaminate our water, our air, murder our brothers and sisters, destroy the wild places and animals under the guise of “management”, without suffering the consequences of this disrespect?

The North American Indian understood this and respected the earth as “mother”, the wolf as “brother” ….  As we propose to slaughter this creature starting in the upcoming Minnesota deer hunting season with 6000 hunting and trapping licenses for 400 pelts, how could the purpose be any clearer?   We have made the wilderness our battleground – for what?  The wolf will be gone or “managed” into a tame shadow of its true self.  Our wilderness areas will be turned into amusement parks, game farms, and vacation areas for the wealthy or sold to corporate greed for timber and precious metals.  Our children will never know the true wealth and beauty of life-affirming and pristine wilderness.  We will have arrived at the “end of living and the beginning of survival” as Chief Seattle so wisely predicted some 157 years ago.wolf_portrait_drawing

As a friend once asked, “what has become of us when we can’t tell the difference between a national park and a battlefield?”  Battlefields, historic buildings, and monuments to men’s wars are now included as National Parks alongside our park lands.  How can this be reconciled with the original intent of the National Park System to preserve the masterpieces of creation for all time and all people?

If you would like to speak up against the wolf hunt scheduled to begin this November, 2012 in Minnesota, please contact your representatives, the DNR and check out the links below.  Through your understanding and support perhaps we can move in a more rational direction and stop the taking of another priceless treasure, pitting brother against brother.

Anita Suzanne Tillemans

October 26, 2012

Office of the DNR Commissioner, 500 Lafayette Rd, St Paul, MN 55115    651-296-6157

Office of the Governor, 130 State Capitol, 75  Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, St Paul, MN 55155   651-201-3400, 1-800-657-3717, Minnesota Relay:800-627-3529Fax: 651-797-1850

September 6, 2012

To write or not to write … do we have a choice?

Not everyone likes to write … I mean really write, the action of placing words on a surface, the smell of ink and paper, the way a line forms on the page, the feel of the pen or pencil in your hand ….  As sensual beings, sound, touch, sight, taste and smell are so much more keenly appreciated when conversing with someone rather than corresponding, and the experience of writing, a chore.  And yet, that action of bringing words into being on a surface, shaping and reshaping, forming pictographs and then words and sentences … has held mankind in awe for thousands of years. 

Though the physical act of writing has changed, the same fascination remains and that same metaphysical force inspires.  Where nothing existed, now something does … more and more writers being brought onto pages in history and perhaps, or not, lost in the annals of time.  We experience with our senses and we appreciate by creating.  We define our lives, in a sense by sharing our experiences and, as we do, we become part of the greater fabric of life… metaphysically speaking, an act of nature.

While technologies advance, we find more and more people texting over calling, not only because it’s cheaper but also faster and more efficient.  More can be said, developed, accomplished and everything moves faster.  There is no more or less misunderstanding proportionately … it merely means there is more input and therefore more to learn.  Everyone is being forced to keep up or be left behind … and no one really wants to feel alienated, though many are … in a race with no road signs and often, more than not, alone and feeling more and more disenfranchised by the pace.

Why is there this pervasive sense of emptiness in cyberspace moving hand in hand with an overwhelming desire, almost addictive, to continue at breakneck speeds?  We know that satisfying things by nature come at length when we take time to savor them.  Even so, we move to use the most efficient methods with a sense of urgency … going where?

My own desire to paint, to write comes from a deep metaphysical need to express those things that filter through me and cry for expression, like a child that cannot sleep for love of play.  Having been an artist all my life using a pencil before I could walk, I find joy in the act itself of writing, but I also find the words, the language and the nuances intriguing and have always taken my time to develop those expressions. 

I find the draw into cyberspace, not only necessary these days, but powerful for the vast sources of knowledge and the efficiency of communications.  At the same time, though, it seems to leave less time or inclination to develop one thing well, since there is so much beckoning.  As a consequence, I worry that the more subtle and most beautiful things in life will be missed in the race to embrace everything … much like a child that has too many toys. 

As we move into a future that no one can predict, or understand, we move closer to understanding through our experience of these technologies.  We exist and where that takes us we learn with every step.  Communication through writing has figured powerfully on that journey.


Anita S Tillemans

September 2012


Johns Steinbeck’s speech for the nobel peace prize for literature and his view on writing::