Featured

The Future Cries Out: ‘Water Is Life’

 

By Robert C. Koehler

 

The dogs growl, the pepper spray bites, the bulldozers tear up the soil.

Water is life!” they cry. “Water is life!”

This isn’t Flint, Michigan, but I feel the presence of its suffering in this cry of outrage at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. No more, no more. You will not poison our water or continue ravaging Planet Earth: mocking its sacredness, destroying its eco-diversity, reshaping and slowly killing it for profit.

The dogs growl, the pepper spray bites, the bulldozers tear up the soil and a judge rules against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s demand that construction of the Dakota Access pipeline be stopped. Sorry, the wishes of the rich and powerful come first. And you protesters are just common criminals.

But sometimes the forces of corporate supremacy don’t get the final word. Something about this tribal-led protest could not be ignored, even by politicians. Initially, the permit application to build the 1,172-mile pipeline, from North Dakota to Illinois, had been fast-tracked through the federal bureaucracy. No matter that it would cut under the Missouri River or destroy ancestral burial grounds. Environmental and tribal concerns were not considered and the tribe was not consulted. The permit was granted and that was that. But shortly after the judge’s ruling upholding the permit, three branches of the Obama administration — the departments of Justice, the Interior and the Army — issued a joint statement temporarily suspending pipeline construction . . . and, good God, suggesting the intervention of a larger consciousness:

“. . . this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.”

Water is life? And the feds give a damn?

As Rebecca Solnit wrote a few days later in The Guardian: “What’s happening at Standing Rock feels like a new civil rights movement” — one, she said, “that takes place at the confluence of environmental and human rights” awareness.

“Indigenous people have played a huge role, as (have) the people in many of the places where extracting and transporting fossil fuel take place, as protectors of particular places and ecosystems from rivers to forests, from the Amazon to the Arctic, as people with a strong sense of the past and the future, of the deep time in which short-term profit turns into long-term damage, and of the rights of the collective over individual profit. All these forces are antithetical to capitalism, and it to them.”

This extraordinary movement is also taking place at the confluence of the past and the future. David Archambault II, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman, put it this way recently in a New York Times op-ed: “As American citizens, we all have a responsibility to speak for a vision of the future that is safe and productive for our grandchildren.”

The world’s most powerful governmental bodies have demonstrated an alarming inability to do this on their own, beholden as they are to the military-industrial status quo and its need for endless growth. This is the maw of capitalism, which could care less about the future.

“We are also a resilient people who have survived unspeakable hardships in the past, so we know what is at stake now,” Archambault writes. “As our songs and prayers echo across the prairie, we need the public to see that in standing up for our rights, we do so on behalf of the millions of Americans who will be affected by this pipeline.

“As one of our greatest leaders, Chief Sitting Bull of the Hunkpapa Lakota, once said: ‘Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.’ That appeal is as relevant today as it was more than a century ago.”

As Winona LaDuke said of the Missouri River itself, this is a force to be reckoned with.

“Water is life!” they cry. “Water is life!”

“It is early evening, the moon full,” she writes. “If you close your eyes, you can remember the 50 million buffalo — the single largest migratory herd in the world. The pounding of their hooves would vibrate the Earth, make the grass grow.

“There were once 250 species of grass. Today the buffalo are gone, replaced by 28 million cattle, which require grain, water, and hay. Many of the fields are now in a single GMO crop, full of so many pesticides that the monarch butterflies are dying off. But in my memory, the old world remains.”

So the monarch is also part of the protest, part of the movement, with its drumbeat reverberating across the planet. The tribal peoples of Earth are making their voices heard in so many ways. Their mission is to reconnect the modern world with the circle of life — a circle that much of humanity left behind maybe ten millennia ago, in pursuit of the Agricultural Revolution and dominion over nature. In the process, we’ve succeeded in changing the climate and, perhaps, establishing a troubling new geological epoch. Now it’s time to rethink “progress.”

Building another pipeline is its antithesis.

Robert Koehler, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

Commentary

It’s About Groceries

 

 

Emanuele Corso

 

It seems at times that the world is what it must be like for a fly climbing a window pane. You can see it all out there but you can’t get to it. The window is transparent, but is what you are seeing the truth? How could you know? How could you be sure? Reality is itself a construct which you accept or not at your own peril. We suffer an opaque political system working overtime, as it does, to corrupt itself at every turn while trying to convince us it isn’t. The sensational hour-by-hour revelations about or for each candidate become a yawn for some people or raw meat thrown to a madding crowd for others. The final political question eventually devolves to how many times we must hold our collective noses and vote for a lesser evil before the political system crumbles into the darkness of chaos.

 

Required reading for one of the classes I taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Radical School Reform, was Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals. It was published the same year I started teaching, 1972. I still keep the book on my desk and pick it up from time to time, scanning through for a random jewel, perhaps a random memory. My favorite passage has always been the concluding paragraph. “The great American dream that reached out to the stars has been lost to the stripes. We have forgotten where we came from, we don’t know where we are, and we fear where we may be going. … When Americans can no longer see the stars, the times are tragic. We must believe that it is darkness before the dawn of a beautiful new world we will see when we believe it.”

 

It is indeed about believing. We live in a complex world believing in, among other things, truth, equality, other people to fear, and something called “fairness,” and a world in which people are asked to believe in an economic system that favors a few at the disadvantage of many. As with religious dogma our economic belief system, capitalism, may not be challenged in spite of clear evidence that it is destroying social contracts and the environment globally. If you doubt this you haven’t been paying attention to the exodus of American business to other countries, places where there are little or no health and safety regulations and pay scales that are a fraction of those in the U.S. In many of those offshore countries workers earn less in a day than what Americans doing the same work earned in an hour. The irony, of course, is that those goods now being made abroad are brought to the U.S. for Americans to “consume.” At the same time that the general public is being impoverished, infrastructure is crumbling across the country to pay for the perpetual and profitable war machine. It is reasonable, I believe, to ask what our values are as a nation when people are without medical care, and children without sufficient daily meals or a proper education. Are our voices not heard at the seats of power, or are our voices simply inconsequential?

 

Capitalism, a zero-sum enterprise that ultimately has only one winner, has become both a belief system and an economic system. In the words of S.D. King in, When The Money Runs Out, “In reality, the financial system prices beliefs—and beliefs—not ultimate truth.” The economic pie is just one size, and as someone else’s slice gets bigger, someone else’s inevitably becomes smaller. In the end, regardless of Calvin Coolidge’s belief that “the business of the American people is business,” what really makes for a healthy, equitable society is truth, and the truth is about groceries, not overseas bank accounts. It’s supermarket shoppers trying to put a meal on the table every day who are the real economy and who make the economy function; that’s what keeps a civil society alive and healthy.

 

Emanuele Corso’s essays on politics, education, and the social contract have been published at  NMPolitics, Light of New Mexico, Grassroots Press, World News Trust, Nation of Change, New Mexico Mercury and his own—siteseven.net. He taught Schools and Society at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he took his Ph.D. His B.S. was in Mathematics. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, where he served as a Combat Crew Officer during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He has been a member of the Carpenters and Joiners labor union, Local 314. He is presently working on a book: Belief Systems and the Social Contract. He can be reached at ecorso@earthlink.net

Local

NMSU Borderlands Writing Project to show New Mexico teachers’ value

 


New Mexico State University’s Borderlands Writing Project will showcase teachers from the southwest region of New Mexico during the “Teachers Write” exhibit from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1 in the Roadrunner Room at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in Las Cruces.

View of the Organ Mountains with snow
Photo taken by Patti Wojahn of the Organ mountains draped in snow as part of the “Teachers Write” series. Photos, writing and other works will be displayed on Oct. 1 at the Branigan Library. (Courtesy photo)

 

The group with J. Paul Taylor in his home.
Teachers joined local community leader J. Paul Taylor in his historic home as part of last year’s tour of Mesilla.

“Teachers Write” provided professional development during the 2015-2016 school year for teachers interested in sharing and gaining experience in writing and photography while reinforcing their love for teaching.

The exhibit of teachers’ writing and photography is open to the public and is a way to share how teachers see and interact with the world through work. The program also will include a documentary that gives insight into what teachers did and learned during the process, followed by a community conversation with a question and answer session.

“One focus of our event is to show teachers and their value,” said Patti Wojahn, department head for interdisciplinary studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Borderlands Writing Project. “It’s about the work they do, even on weekends, to support their own learning; the sharing they do of strategies that work to support learning among their students; the amount of care they bring to their classrooms.”

Borderlands Writing Project is part of the National Writing Project, a national professional development organization focused on the teaching of writing. Their aim is to build on the strengths teachers already have through a “teachers teaching teachers” model. Exhibits like “Teachers Write” allow the larger community to see the many talents and abilities that New Mexico teachers bring not only to the classroom, but also to the community.

For more information about Teacher’s Write or the Borderlands Writing Project, visit https://english.nmsu.edu/organizations/borderlands-writing-project/ or contact Patti Wojahn at pwojahn@nmsu.edu.

 

Border

Environment

SWEC: Wilderness disappearing worldwide

Coyote America author to speak tomorrow in Las Cruces

Author and environmental historian Dan Flores’ latest book Coyote America is currently on the New York Times best sellers list for animal books. Dan will be in Las Cruces tomorrow, Tuesday, September 13th, to give a talk entitled “Coyote: Biography of an American Original” at 7 pm at the Rio Grande Theatre in downtown Las Cruces. Free and open to the public. Click here for more details. Don’t miss this special event!

Stand up for our public lands!

Tomorrow the Doña Ana County Commission will consider a resolution supporting continued federal ownership of public lands because of their irreplaceable value to our economy, qualify of life and natural heritage. If you live in the area, please come to the meeting and voice your support for the resolution. (There will be opposition.) It is the first agenda item after presentations and consent agenda, so it could be considered as early as 9:30 am. The commission meets in the County Building at 845 North Motel Boulevard in Las Cruces. Contact kevin@wildmesquite.org for more info.

New study shows world’s wilderness disappearing rapidly

Since the 1990s the world has lost 10 percent of its wilderness, according to a new study published in the journal Current Biology. These are ecologically intact areas largely free of human disturbance that provide essential services and benefits to humans as well as providing a refuge for many species of plants and animals. The authors call on the world’s nations to do more to protect remaining wilderness areas—another reason to support the protection of federal public lands in the United States, where most wilderness is located.

Next Back by Noon outing: Otero Mesa

Roads permitting, the next outing in SWEC’s fall Back by Noon series is an all-day trip to see the grasslands and wildlife of Otero Mesa this Saturday, Sept. 17. Otero Mesa contains one of the largest intact desert grasslands in North America, and is threatened by fossil fuel development and hardrock mining. To register, contact Kallie@wildmesquite.org or call (575) 522-5552.  Click here to see a complete list of outings.

Tickets now available for SWEC Gala

Tickets are now on sale for the Southwest Environmental Center’s annual gala fundraiser A Wild Night for Wildlife on Saturday, October 15th, 6-10 pm. The event will feature great food from local restaurants, live music, dancing on Main Street under the stars and lots of great auction items. And of course, good company. The theme of this year’s event is “Vote for Wildlife!” Click here to buy your ticket now.

 

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    Links

  • The Light of New Mexico
  • Green Fire Times
  • Transition Times--Colorado
  • Heath Haussamen: NM Politics
  • Thomas Wark
  • Carolyn Baker: “Speaking truth to power”
  • James Howard Kunstler: The Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle
  • Dada's Dally: defies description
  • Desert Journal: NM online newspaper
  • Bruce Gagnon: Organizing Notes
  • Sally Erickson: The end of empire
  • Steve Klinger’s music and blogs: Songs for change; music blog
  • Progressive Democratic activist site
  • Gordon Solberg
  • Brenda Norrell: Censored and under-reported news
  • Rio Grande Digital: Las Cruce/El Paso/Juarez news and culture
  • JourneySantaFe—Water: Who Controls It?

  • Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.