Winona, Minn. — 35 Raise Fracas Over Fracking

Steve under arrest in Winona 2013Friend Steve Clemens joined with 35 other yesterday in Winona, Minn., to nonviolently block 18-wheeler semis delivering silica “frac sand” to barges on the Mississippi River. (The sand is mined in Minnesota and then shipped to natural gas fracking operations in Texas and other locations.)

They were arrested on trespass charges in what may have been the largest protest to date against “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing is a nontraditional extractive process to release methane pockets in shale).

Read Steve’s whole story at his blog Mennonista, but here’s an excerpt of a letter of support that the group received from farmer-philosopher Wendell Berry:

“You have offered me the privilege of joining by letter with you and your friends in Winona in opposition to “frac sand mining,” and I am happy to accept.

I will say, first, that there is never, for any reason, a justification for doing long-term or permanent damage to the ecosphere. We did not create the world, we do not own it, and we have no right to destroy any part of it.

Second, most of our politicians and their corporate employers are measuring their work by standards of profitability and mechanical efficiency. Those standards are wrong. There is one standard that is right: the health of living creatures and the living earth.

Third, we must give our needs to eat, drink, and breathe an absolute precedence over our need for mined fuels.

I wish you well.”–Wendell Berry, personal correspondence

Read Steve’s whole account.

Video: Prophet Amos and U.S. Wealth Distribution

Thanks to Koos for this excellent 6-minute video on wealth distribution in these United States. An interesting Bible study would be to watch this video and read the prophet Amos, chapters 4 and 5.

“You levy a straw tax on the poor and impose a tax on their grain. Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine. For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins. There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.”- Amos 5:11-12

“A corporation, essentially, is a pile of money to which a number of persons have sold their moral allegiance.”—Wendell Berry

“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.”—Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry: Feed My Lambs

leavings berryXI.

by Wendell Berry

Though he was ill and in pain,
in disobedience to the instruction he
would have received if he had asked,
the old man got up from his bed,
dressed, and went to the barn.
The bare branches of winter had emerged
through the last leaf-colors of fall,
the loveliest of all, browns and yellows
delicate and nameless in the gray light
and the sifting rain. He put feed
in the troughs for eighteen ewe lambs,
sent the dog for them, and she
brought them. They came eager
to their feed, and he who felt
their hunger was by their feeding
eased. From no place in the time
of present places, within no boundary
nameable in human thought,
they had gathered once again,
the shepherd, his sheep, and his dog
with all the known and the unknown
round about to the heavens’ limit.
Was this his stubbornness or bravado?
No. Only an ordinary act
of profoundest intimacy in a day
that might have been better. Still
the world persisted in its beauty,
he in his gratitude, and for this
he had most earnestly prayed.

“XI.” by Wendell Berry, from Leavings. © Counterpoint, 2009. Reprinted in full without permission.

‘The Ethics of Sustainable Healthcare Reform’

27462-clipart-illustration-of-a-stethoscope-up-against-planet-earth-on-the-african-continent-symbolizing-world-heath-or-ecologyHere’s an interesting article The Ethics of Sustainable Healthcare Reform by bioethicist Jessica Pierce and Dan Bednarz, co-editor of Health after Oil, on the necessity of approaching the healthcare system from the perspective that Wendell Berry calls “solving for pattern.”

Pierce and Bednarz look at the healthcare system costs in our national economy (16% of national economy) and why reform is necessary to get us out of the economic death-spiral in which U.S.  market-capitalism finds itself. They also look at how the medical industry builds up massive ecological debt–a debt that will have to be paid sooner, rather than later.

Simply stated, the present healthcare system is unsustainable for two sets of (interconnected) reasons,  fiscal and ecological. The fiscal side receives attention in the current debate, but most discussion underestimates the problems and proposes solutions that provide little more than temporary band-aids. It is in the main unappreciated that the nation is in socioeconomic decline—primarily in the form of massive debt and defaults on that debt, deflation of asset values, and unemployment—which threatens the present healthcare system. Our collective understanding of the ecological dimension is abysmal, especially its connection to the economy, and if grasped would lead to the abandonment of politics and business as usual in medicine and throughout society.

Read the whole article here.

The First Lesson in Agriculture

In further thoughts on foodsheds, I once interviewed the wonderful farmer-poet Wendell Berry who said:

When you take away the subsistence economy, then your farm population is seriously exposed to the vagaries of the larger economy. As it used to be, the subsistence economy carried people through the hard times, and what you might call the housewife’s economy of cream and eggs often held these farms and their families together. The wives would go to town with eggs and cream once a week, buy groceries with the proceeds, and sometimes come home with money. Or they’d sell a few old hens, that sort of thing.

So that’s the first lesson to learn about agriculture, as far as I’m concerned: It needs a sound subsistence basis. People need to feed themselves, next they need to feed their own communities. That’s what we’re working for now. We want to develop a local food economy that local producers will supply and that the local consumers will support. It’s ridiculous that we should be importing food into this state while our farmers are suffering.

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