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.

Steve Clemens: ‘Why I Got Arrested Over a Pipeline’

Steve Clemens at Tar Sands protest.
As part of the follow-up to the arrest of more than 60 religious leaders on Monday at the White House, we asked participants to take time to craft their “public story,” as civil rights organizer Marshall Ganz calls it. We encouraged them to ask someone in the next few days to do a 15-minute interview with them on the civil disobedience action. The interviewer should ask “Who, What, When, How, Where?” The participant should start answers with her or his senses: Taste, Smell, Hearing, Sight, Touch.

Using the interviewers notes on the answers, craft a good public story that has a plot – challenges they faced, choices they made, and outcomes they experienced – texture, dialogue, and scene. We told folks to stay away from the “issue” and stick with what they personally were wrestling with in their hearts. Write this up in a 2-3 paragraphs. Practice telling the crafted story aloud. Then go tell it to others! This story can then be submitted to the local paper, denominational newsletters, used to preach, tell others in the grocery store, and sent back to Tar Sands Action.

My friend Steve Clemens has posted a wonderful tale of his experiences over at Mennonista. Below is an excerpt:

When I first signed up to come to Washington and return to the White House, I thought to myself: wasn’t it just a year and a half ago that I told Christine that I’m getting too old to spend another night in jail? My experience protesting President Obama’s continuation of the Afghan and Iraq Wars had left me physically very sore (but spiritually content) after 28 hours in the four different DC jails we occupied after our “die in” at the White House the day before the 2010 State of the Union address.

This time it was an email from my friend, Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia that got the juices flowing again. He sent me a letter signed by Bill McKibben, Jim Hansen, Naomi Klein, and Wendell Berry (among others) asking us to come to DC at the end of August to nonviolently pressure President Obama to declare that allowing the Trans-Canada project to build the Keystone XL pipeline linking the Alberta Tar Sands oil fields to Houston, TX refineries and Gulf Coast shipping would not be in “the national interest”. Since the proposed 1,700 mile pipeline would cross the international border, Obama can unilaterally declare it is or isn’t in our national interest without Congressional interference. Come to Washington, the letter said, and risk arrest in a two-week civil disobedience campaign. The letter especially encouraged we older folk who have made a very large carbon footprint over our lives to share some of the burden of risking arrest to change our policies. …

Read Steve’s whole account.