Friday, February 17, 2012

demonstrating our love for this land

Sweet roses from the Papa-man
 We had an unusual Valentine's Day this year.  We had the opportunity to join other families from our area in an act of activist love: delivering valentines to our governor.

These weren't valentines for the governor, exactly. They were paper hearts that spoke of our love for the land we live on and near. For the water that runs clean from the nearby springs - there are several, and we and others really do use them for our drinking water!  For the amazing food we are so lucky to nourish our bodies with - plants and animals grown right here. 


I hope that if you've been a reader here for any length of time, you've discovered how much we appreciate and enjoy the natural world around us, the farms and friends who grow our food, the farmer's market that we is a huge part of our life. 
Ari worked hard on her valentine - see the veggies? And the dead person??
 All of this is currently being threatened with a method of extracting oil and natural gas from the earth through hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking". While some residents of the county are considering leasing their land to the oil companies - this is a very economically depressed part of the state, and this income is seen as a huge boon and blessing to some - others fear that the history of fracking is still too young to guarantee safe practices.  The threats to the groundwater and the contamination from the residual wastewater have in the past been great.  (Fracking watch-groups present their view here at Slow Down Fracking in Athens County and at FrackAction)
"Love life! Don't frack!"
 The potential toxic wastewater created would affect everything - our drinking water, well water, the health of our soil, and thereby the health of our animals, our crops, our families. 

 So, we made some valentines, and tried to be polite but expressive about our position, our love of clean drinking water, healthy family farms, crunchy apples...
Ani's valentine: Roses are red, Violets are blue, Fracking stinks, but we love you!
 So, we drove to Columbus - first to drop Dan off at the airport, where he was off on a trip for a few days, and then to the Statehouse! We'd never been, and it was impressive to the girls with all of its marble and tile. We spent a long time while waiting for the other families, looking at all the fossils imbedded in the columns and steps.  When it was time we went to the skyscraper across the street, which houses the actual offices.

A representative from our group had made an appointment with Governor Kasich several weeks ago.  We arrived to find out that he had emailed to say he would not be able to make his appointment. Do you think he found out that he'd have to face passionate mamas and their children who had driven hours to tell him how much they love their land?

That's what I think.  I think he didn't know what he'd say to these small faces, clutching their paper hearts, eager to meet The Governor!  Eliza thinks he chickened out.

Needless to say, it was disappointing. However, after speaking on camera to a local TV crew, we went up to the 30th floor - all 10-plus families - to the lobby outside the Governor's offices.  We just wanted to give our valentines to someone, to be acknowledged for our cause and our efforts.

Let me tell you, this was a peaceful group, though we were many and several of us were wee and restless! The messages given to the reporters were ones of peace and loving requests that the Governor use caution in allowing these fracking practices in Ohio.  That he value people and healthy land over corporate investment in exploiting our natural resources.

We were turned away. No one from the Office of the Governor would come on his behalf and accept the valentines we brought. Not an aide, not an intern - nobody.  This poor security guard very politely, very respectfully, and very firmly told us we'd gone as far as we could go and we could leave the valentines with him.

This was not the lesson we'd hoped to teach our children.  We'd hoped to show them how to get their voices heard, to demonstrate how you make a difference about something you care about.

We decided to head back to the Statehouse for a while before leaving for home.  There is a small museum in the basement that illuminates Ohio's political history, and we looked at an exhibit about the citizens of Ohio turning to their government representatives - who are elected to listen and act on behalf of the people - to raise awareness about local issues, and let their voices be heard. Ironic.
Map of Ohio counties
 Surprisingly, and joyfully, the moods were still high - we all felt we had done a good thing, speaking up for something that we love.

Girls of Athens County!
Our friend, M., who is already a top-notch investigator and observer of human nature, told Eliza that someday she'd like to work in the Statehouse, so that when issues of this nature come up, she can be there in the room to say, "No! I'm not ok with that!"  We need someone like you, M!

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