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Keep Your Eye Out For Smoky Mountain Life Center!

in Blog/Charitable Campaign/Current Events/Get Involved/News/Social Commentary by

Try growing up having summers where the temperature is 114 degrees for week straight, to going to a place that actually experiences a winter. I’m talking, it has snowed at my home in Sevierville at least 5 times since October. Like, BIG snows; big enough to build a snowman, and his wife and two children! This is very…different for me. I wouldn’t call it difficult though; not in comparison to those of our community who don’t have a warm bed to snuggle up in to write articles, like me. The contrast between my situation and theirs ignites the fire in my heart to want to bring warmth to those who struggle more than I have ever had to.

The opposition between my situation and that of the street-people reminds me of Samuel Coleridge’s Kubla Khan. In his poem, Coleridge masterfully describes an underground dome as beautiful as the Bible’s garden of Eden.

“So twice five miles of fertile ground /
With walls and towers were girdled round; /
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, /
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; /
And here were forests ancient as the hills, /
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.”

The comfort that I enjoy is like that! Sure, I have worries, stresses, anxieties, struggles. But -let me just do a little privilege check here- I have never been in a situation where I have had no other choice than to ask someone for help paying for my food, or my utility bills, or clothing for my children (if I had them). Did I do anything to deserve this? Absolutely not. So, do I therefore have a responsibility to my community to ease the suffering of those who are less fortunate? Absolutely. IF you ask me.

As in life, in Coleridge’s poem, there is a bit of trouble in paradise. There is a river running through the lush land that encounters some rough waters.

“A mighty fountain momently was forced: /
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst /
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail, /
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail: /
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever /
It flung up momently the sacred river.”

I see the rapids…I can use my empathy to try to understand what it would be like to try and stay afloat on such a rushing river, and so I want to help.

I am not the only one.

That brings us to last Monday, where I found myself at the third-ever meeting of a local group called “Smoky Mountain Life Center.” This is a group who wants to provide warm, safe, temporary housing for the homeless population in our community.

The organization is getting the ball moving, as I learned from the meeting! They are working with churches to secure emergency shelters, so that folks seeking immediate help on the coldest and wettest of nights can have a warm and dry place to sleep. They are working with realtors to find a place that can provide a little bit more long term assistance for folks who may need to develop some skills such as resume building, need job-appropriate clothing, or financial advise. They have even contacted beauticians willing to donate their time to offer free haircuts to folks who are down on their luck.

The idea is to network with existing organizations such as SMARM (Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Mission) in order to help the homeless folks in our community reintegrate into a self-sustaining situation for themselves and their families.

Ideas on how to raise funds in order to secure the 501C3 licensing are going around the group of about fifteen people. It is a dream (unlike Coleridge’s pipe-dream) that is currently being built. All it will take is time, dedication, and persistence. Plus, a lot of compassion. But, if I know anything about the people of Tennessee, it is that you have to be tough to weather these cold winters, and that you have to do it by relying on each other.

“That with music loud and long, /
I would build that dome in air, /
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!”

Creating a warm place for the least fortunate of our human brothers and sisters around us is a cause that I am happy to be a part of. I have plenty enough to share.

This was the first meeting that I attended for the organization, and the next one is on the 19th of this month. I absolutely look forward to continuing to brainstorm about what comes next, and I will be there the whole time, chronicling the building of a paradise in my home not just for some, but for all.

Don’t Forget, Dallas Shooting July 2016

in Current Events/News/Uncategorized by

(Watch in highest quality!)

I remember this day very clearly.

It was the first time that I had ever heard of a shooting happening in a city where I had lived.

It was the first time I felt mass panic on such an intimate level.

July 7th, 2016 was the day that Micah Xavier Johnson shot several people in downtown Dallas, Texas during a Black Lives Matter protest. The shooting was caused by a man who let hysteria consume him and made him view someone with a color of skin different than his as his personal enemy. He was a black man who was set on killing white authority, including five police officers and a DART officer (Dallas Area Rapid Transit).

From the room of my apartment in a different city, I began making this video while live news coverage was still going on. First, they could not figure out who the shooter was. Then, they accused an innocent man of being the shooter, because he came forth to the authorities saying he had a gun because he was afraid of being blamed for the shooting. He was found innocent, then they tracked down the shooter and cornered him in a parking garage.

It seemed that the police force was reluctant to just plow him down. They also may have been suppressing panic themselves. In the end, a robot bearing a C-4 explosive was used to shoot and kill Johnson, marking the first time this kind of technology had been used by a police force to kill a man.

I am supportive of equality, and in tipping the scales so that we may be better balanced with it. I support most protests.

Violence however, I cannot be supportive of. It seemed to me on this day, that some protests from some groups had become a grounds where violence was at the tip of everyone’s tongue, and lots of folks just needed the right trigger to incite them. That was true in this protest at least.

The reason for me posting this tragic event on my website is 1) to bring the video from my YouTube page to my personal news page and mainly, 2) as a reminder to keep protests peaceful. It’s that simple. All violence at a protest will do is hurt the cause by making it look ill thought-out and spurned by hatred, not justice.

Even Arizona is trying to pass a law that would take away property from any person who helped organize a protest that turned violent. That person could also be held liable for any damage done during the protest, even if it was caused by someone else.

This is terrible legislation that infringes upon our constitutional right to gather in assembly. However, I do agree with what I believe to be the point of the bill, which is that we need to make sure our involvement in government is peaceful and community-minded.

No matter what “the other side” or “they” are doing, if we as a collective, unified body of compassionate humanity want fairness and equality, the attitude of the ends justifying the means and violence being a tool to get there, cannot be so.

RIP to victims of hate and irrational thinking.

May we all look upon each other seeking understanding and through that, peace.

Hallelujah, Music Trumps Money

in Blog/Current Events/Media/Music/Social Commentary by

President Trump has stirred up the most controversy and protest that I can remember out of any of the 5 presidents who have held office since I have been alive. Not to mention he has the lowest approval ratings of any president, ever. Not to say that there hasn’t been protest for the others. I remember George Bush especially, a lot of folks on the Internet were saying that he was the anti-Christ, ha.

Trump however, has already shown his lack of basic concern for a whole shlew of people. Women, immigrants, especially from the near south and far east, anyone who is not a ga-jillionaire, anyone who cares about these people, plants animals and people who are affected and will soon be affected more by climate change; all of us are sort of shaking in our boots to see what Trump will do with the power we granted him over the next four years.

Running rampant along with insults and promises of policies that makes many cringe, are protests of these things. There was the Women’s March on the Capital the day after Trump’s inauguration. Smaller protests were held at State Capitols around the country. There was one in Austin I would have liked to go to. There are also reports of marches in Chicago and Denver to name a few. There are still protests going on to this day.

The lay-woman and -man aren’t the only ones calling attention to issues that have been highlighted by the charged atmosphere of this particular election. Some of my favorite artists decided to comment on this election by releasing a song from their upcoming album.

If you’re a Gorillaz fan, or a Benjamin Clementine fan, definitely go listen to this new track satirically called, “Hallelujah Money.”

Lyrics:

“Here is our tree
That primitively grows
And when you go to bed
Scarecrows from the far east
Come to eat
Its tender fruits
And I thought the best way to perfect our tree
Is by building walls
Walls like unicorns
In full glory
And galore
And even stronger
Than the walls of Jericho
But glad then my friend
Out in the field we shall reap a better day
What we have always dreamt of having
Are now for the starving
It is love, that is the root of all evil
But not our tree
And thank you my friend
For trusting me.

[Hook: Benjamin Clementine (Choir)]
Hallelujah
(Hallelujah)
Hallelujah money
(Past the chemtrails)
Hallelujah money
(Hallelujah money)
Hallelujah money
(Hallelujah money)
Hmmm
Hallelujah money
(Hallelujah)
Hallelujah money
(Oooh)

[Bridge: 2-D]
How will we know?
When the morning comes
We are still human
How will we know?
How will we dream?
How will we love?
How will we know?

[Spoken Verse: Benjamin Clementine]
Don’t worry my friend
If this be the end, then so shall it be
Until we say so, nothing will move
Ah, don’t worry
It’s not against our morals
It’s legal tender
Touch, my friend
While the whole world
And whole beasts of nations desire
Power

[Bridge 2: 2-D]
When the morning comes
We are still human
How will we know?
How will we dream?
How will we love?
How will we know?

[Hook: Benjamin Clementine (Choir)]
(Hallelujah money)
Hallelujah money
(Past the chemtrails)
Hallelujah money
(Hallelujah money)
Hmmm
Hallelujah money
(Hallelujah money)
Hallelujah money
(Oooh)
Hallelujah money
Hallelujah money
Hallelujah
Hallelujah money!”

I love the religious tone in the song. You see it in the lyrics, in the choir singing behind Benjamin Clementine, even some in the melancholy coos of Clementine. I find it sort of ironic that the words at once draw metaphors from the Bible, as well as speaking satirically about the morals embodied by our new president and by many in the United States.

The “tender fruits” from “our garden” are so precious that they need “walls…even stronger…than those of Jericho” to protect them, is the claim in the first verse. It is as if our country is the precious garden of Eden, yet our garden is so full of greed and weeds that the comparison must be noted as asinine.

Later in the song, the idea that money “trumps” morality is shown. The song essentially says, “Hey, don’t worry about morality, we have power, which is what all nations desire.”

Many would say that power leads to corruption and that the love and idolization of money many times leads to the slow degradation of empathy for a great deal of things such as other systems and humans which are not possessed by the rich.

The way Clementine’s voice and hands and seemingly, soul, begin shaking as he belts out the single word “Power” made my heart shake as well. Is it too punny to say that part of the song was very powerful?

The nation itself seems to be shaking. Some anticipation, some fear, some dread. What I find hope in though, is that protesters and artists, movers and shakers, will continue to speak up about issues that are affecting them so that those on the Hill will have to hear.

Read this fantastic article from Uproxxx to find out more about the Gorillaz new album!

Source: Uproxx

Ringling No More

in Blog/Current Events/News/Social Commentary by

If an elephant never forgets, I wonder what thoughts the elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are living with for the rest of their long lives? (They live to be about 50 years old!)

If you ask PETA, the answer of loneliness and abuse ring(ling) a bell. If you ask many of the circus-goers who are disappointed that they will never get to see an elephant perform in “The Greatest Show on Earth” ever again…well, they may not have even thought about it.

Now protestors and circus-goers alike are being forced to think about it, since headlines like this one from CNN are all over the news circuit. And since an elephant can’t, or as I like to say it “ele-can’t” tell us about its glory days and days of pain, we, charged with their care, must tell the narrative.

It turns out that now, an elecan’t perform in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus any more. That is because on May 21st of this year, the animals and performers will give their last performance. Period.

This is arguably due to a few different reasons. The reason on everyone’s mind is the protest coming from animal activist organizations and individuals regarding the treatment of animals in the circus, though the Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, who own the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has not and will probably not admit to that.

This article from PETA claims that elephants are torn from their families, forced to remain in the same position for 23 hours out of the day, and treated to chains, bullhooks, electrical prods, chains, and confinement. (PETA stands for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.”)

There is also that one…little incident of the circus being made to pay $270,000 for violations of the Animal Welfare Act, the AWA. That is the most paid by an animal exhibitor, ever.

So that means that the animals rights violations are more than hippie’s cries of injustice towards our animal friends; they are real infractions punished by a legitimate policy-enforcing organization.

Something an ele-CAN is be on the endangered animals list. The elephants used in this circus are Asian elephants. At the turn of the century, there were twice as many Asian elephants than are left today.

If you remember middle school, you probably remember being taught about the food cycle, and how every species alive is important. Biodiversity is very important on our Earth. If you remember middle school, you also probably remember The Lion King, and what we learned there about the circle of life. Hey, it moves us all!

Feld Entertainment sort of…balances out the cruelty to the elephants in the circus by providing them a nice retirement home when they are too old to perform. The Elephant Conservation Center is a 200 acre sanctuary in Florida.

Not only can elephants live out their golden years here, the Center is also highly focused on the preservation of Asian elephants through reproduction. There have been over a dozen births at the center since its opening. This really should be recognized as a good thing, even if Feld Entertainment does have a circus of a track record when it comes to treating animals well.

Many consider the move by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to shut down their circus one that is an advancement in human consciousness towards peace for all living things. We will hear the bells and whistles of the circus ring…ling no more. “The Greatest Show on Earth” may be greater for some now that it is closed.

What do YOU think?

Dallas Unites Against DAPL

in Business/Current Events/News/Policy by

Smart business will invest in renewable energy!nodaplme

 

It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

I have been wanting so badly to be able to go to North Dakota to stand with the protesters there against the Dakota Access Pipeline. A trip to North Dakota just isn’t in my budget though. That’s not true of a lot of folks; even several celebrities have gotten involved, bringing a lot of media attention to the issue. They include Jackson Browne, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Rock, Bernie Sanders, and many more. This article shows an extensive list of big names who are showing their support for the Standing Rock Tribe.

Little did I know, Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for the building of the pipeline, is headquartered in Dallas! I lived in Dallas for about a year, and am staying in Fort Worth now, about 45 minutes south and mostly west of Dallas. Whenever I heard that some local groups and individual activists were organizing protests at the headquarters, a rush of excitement and opportunity rushed through me. Protesting at the headquarters was the next best thing to actually being at the front lines in North Dakota.

My activist friend who I met through working with Texas Campaign for the Environment was the one who told me about the protest. There have been several and several more are planned. The one I went to was held at the Klyde Warren park. The park was funded by Klyde’s father, Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners. These organizers are really covering their bases.

background-text

In this one battle of many against the looming and devastating effects of climate change, I wanted to catch a glimpse of why folks in Dallas were dedicating their time and energy to a fight that is so far away. I was able to speak with a lot of inspiring warriors, and a few let me video their responses.

I asked them to introduce themselves and state why they were there protesting. Watch the video, and in this article, I would like to elaborate on some of the points that were made in the video, for those who want to dig deeper and do more research on the issue. The numbered list below cites information that corresponds with the different speakers in the video, consecutively.

Thank you so much for reading and watching.

If you are currently in North Dakota fighting, just know that there are folks worldwide, all the way from the UK to good ole Dallas, Texas, who are fighting with you. Don’t give up!

In love, Monica Leigh <3

  1. I am a proponent of peaceful protest. I do not believe that violence or any sort of rampant emotions will lead to peace. However, I do possess the empathy to understand why some protesters would lose their cool and get out of hand during this protest. As a trained protester, I would like to say that those who begin to yell and insult and become violent may not have had the training that some protesters have had. Either way, violence has occurred, and hopefully more violence can be avoided.
  2. Here is the Facebook page of the group this young lady mentions.
  3. Pipelines spill. Here is the website of a reputable organization that goes into a little more detail about how often pipelines spill, how many lives they take, and how much money it costs.
  4. European countries are taking the lead in operating using renewable energy. Germany is currently redoing its entire energy infrastructure to be ran off of renewable energy. There are cleaner, smarter, more efficient ways to consume energy than pulling toxic goop out of the ground and transporting it across our earth.
  5. The government granted federally protected land to the tribes in North Dakota and the surrounding regions. Check out these sites for more info on those treaties.
  6. I would direct you to the last section of my first blog post about this issue to look more into how renewables MUST be the way of the future.If we do not begin investing in renewables, we will see global catastrophic events. Entire island countries underwater, coastlines receded miles inland, the number of climate refugees seeking refuge in safer countries climbing. Smart companies WILL invest in renewables.

I hope this video and article has been entertaining and informative.

Leave me a comment below to let me know what you think.

I’ll believe in you if you’ll believe in me, ya? 🙂 <3

love

Seeing Fort Worth Through Different Goggles

in Current Events/News by

Most definitely play this song by a local band while you read to enhance your reading experience! \m/

 

You would think that an Oklahoma girl who moved away from her home state as soon as the opportunity arose would stay as far away from a city affectionately named “Cowtown” as possible. Yet here I am, and have been, in good ole Fort Worth, Texas for the past 6 months! I suppose that while I left Small Town, OK, my affinity towards judging things prior to actually engaging with and experiencing them myself have stayed with me. Fort Worth is actually a pretty cool spot to be for this upcoming freelance writer.

Being a writer, I love a good story, and this old town is full of them. Fort Worth has been around since 1849. This was a time when slavery was in full swing, as was the gold rush, y’all. Fort Worth was settled as an army outpost overlooking the Trinity River. The roots of this town are still seen thriving, if you’re looking. Segregation is still alive, as is the concentration of money in certain areas, and you can bet your boots that the Trinity River is one of the main attractions of the city. It is certainly lovely to walk or bike beside the river on a warm fall day. However, everybody here knows to avoid certain areas because of gangs and the crime that lives with extreme poverty. Fort Worth is a city of extremes.

Me personally, I live in a generally nice-ish area and work in a nice one. Being employed at Kona Grill in the West 7th area (we serve American food with an Asian twist; also, a full sushi bar and upstairs patio!), I have the pleasure of talking with long-time Fort Worth residents who come in for sushi and miso-sake sea bass that’s been marinated for 72 hours in miso-sake marinade. YUM! I like to chat about the arts district, since that is what I love most in life, art! Patrons often come in for food after visiting the Kimbell Art Museum (free) or the Botanic Gardens (also FREE!). I tell them I find it quite lovely that all of these artistic attractions are free. It helps keep a girl on a budget (if you can call being as broke as a stepped on stick “a budget”). They tell me that this area, poppin’ with restaurants frequented by TCU students and recent graduates, wasn’t always as nice. No one has yet said the word, but apparently the area used to be pretty ghetto.

"A Hibiscus, tropical but grows well in Texas and Oklahoma and better in Florida, Louisiana."
“A Hibiscus, tropical but grows well in Texas and Oklahoma.” Taken at the Botanic Gardens.

What a transformation! Whoever it was that dumped a ton of money over the past several decades into building some of the most astute and admired museums and gardens and theaters in the country, then decided to keep them free, I sure as heck appreciate it. It helps keep me out of trouble, and there is something telling me that, that’s exactly the point. The area was once rough and sparse, according to my at least decently well-monied patrons, and is now fresh and poppin’ with opportunity and young life. Again, no one has yet said the word, but with the building and rebuilding of businesses that I see going on before my very eyes, it seems like quite a few parts of the city are being gentrified.

The Southside area of Cow Town is another that is full of stories of what used to be and what is now. I had the pleasure of attending the outdoor festival called ArtsGoggle last Saturday, the 8th of October. After taking my exit 12B off of highway 30, I looked to the right and saw trains rusted and stopped in an old train yard, then to my left and saw the buildings of downtown rising higher and higher as I drove near them. It seemed that the day-long festival was square in the middle of these two extremes.

It took quite a while to park, but I did finally, in the parking lot of Paris Coffee Shop. I walked two blocks over to where the festival began. Just as the website promised, there were blocks and blocks full of vendors, all local artists! Much of the art was what you would expect from southern artists, like pictures of lizards painted onto beautifully stained wood. There was a lot of melted glass art; bottles that had been melted down into a hardened pile of glass that could now serve as a decorative piece. One of my favorite booths was of a young woman who is still an art student, but going to be featured in museums, with her oil painting and charcoal drawings of herself, looking very alive in a post-apocalyptic world wearing a gas mask. Very very cool Jamie.

Jamie's business card, is that not so rad?
Jamie’s business card, is that not so rad?

Not only that, there were “50 local bands across 5 stages.” I got to catch a little bit of the Kites and Boomerangs, I had to stop and dance for a moment, they were rockin’ out. I saw my friend from work there also, she said that she got to rock out to The Hendersons. I need to check them out also. My friend wears dark purple lipstick, so I naturally trust her taste in music.

Probably the most meaningful booth to me was the Sleeping Panther Press Publishing Company’s. What caught my eye walking by was the sign that said, “Writer’s Boot Camp.” I spoke with the founder who is also a writer and the editor of their annual compilation of short stories, poems, and screenplays all written by local writers. It’s called Panther City Review. I highly recommend it! The group of writers and critique-rs meet once a month. I am so there! And soso glad that I found somewhere I can go to have my writing read and improved upon that is right near where I live.

After walking around by myself for a bit, I went and found my friend who was there with her daughter and in-laws. My friend and her little one had never been to the festival either, but we agreed that it was a good way to spend a family-friendly Saturday afternoon.

It takes a vibrant community of artists, business owners, and benefactors to be able to sport such a successful event that is free to the public and given life by folks who are actually living in the city. Being at that event, I for the first time questioned why exactly “gentrification” has SUCH a negative connotation.

Forcing people out of their homes because of a more expensive cost of living and higher property taxes is obviously not cool. But after talking with some folks at the Fairmount neighborhood association (ArtsGoggle is in the historic Fairmount neighborhood), I gained some new perspective. There is a mixture of folks living in the Southside area. There are families who have been there for decades, and folks that just moved in months ago. Demographically speaking, the numbers of black and white folks living there are actually closer to even than they are in the state of Texas as a whole, so that doesn’t seem to be an issue. What I see through my own eyes is a thriving arts community full of young people of every color attending one of the several colleges in the city, being supported by an older generation of artists and connoisseurs who want the younger generation to have it all and give it their all.

The mixture of livelihood and poverty is sometimes as easy to see as the division from one block to another. Just about a week ago, my partner and I went to a local bar/restaurant that features mainly local acoustic songwriters and musicians. We sat on the rooftop. I was surprised that I got to enjoy a vegan veggie wrap while he ordered a craft burger. The Live Oak seemed to be in a nice location, but if you go a few blocks down, you get to see some blocks that are a bit seedier. But I still felt safe walking to my car after leaving the venue.

What makes a city great? The people, of course. While I won’t be living in Fort Worth forever, I’m glad I put my prejudices aside to explore what it had to offer. To humbly see the city with different “goggles,” if you will.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL): WOT? Why??

in Business/Current Events/News/Policy by

You may have been catching glimpses in your newsfeed or on the radio or television (but probably on your newsfeed) about something about North Dakota and Native Americans and the DAPL from the pesky oil companies who are at it again…always. You may NOT know exactly what is going on. That’s okay; it’s really quite an exciting tale. Sit it on down and let me break it down into “wots” and “whys.”

WOT: is North Dakota?

It is the state directly north of, you got it, South Dakota! (Haha) I didn’t know much about the state whenever I started writing this article, so here is what I found for you.

Simple Googling reminded me what I learned in grade school, that Bismark is the capital of the state dominated by plains. I was surprised to find that the whole state had a population of only about 740,000 as of 2014. That’s close to a tenth the size of New York City. Alright cool, there’s a lot of open space and not many people. Turns out, a lot of the people living there are Native Americnas, many of them living on reservations. Besides that, what most of the open space is used for is to farm most of the grains that are farmed in our country. Like wheat and barley. Also flaxseed, for you yuppy health nuts (like me!). Think literally, amber waves of grain. And thank North Dakota for the flaxseed oil in your expensive soaps and shampoos. *Thanks, North Dakota!*

2field-summer-countryside-autumn

The other important natural resource that North Dakota boasts is the Little Missouri River, where the state shares a border with Montana. This where the scene of our story takes place. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe inhabits North Dakota and they are the heroes of this tale. As well as many other tribes we sadly have probably never heard of, such as Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Yanktonia, Sisseton, Wahpeton, and Hundpapa.

WHY: All the Fighting?

You’d think a peaceful state full of Native Americnas and open fields wouldn’t have a reason to be so controversial. Reason is, put simply, Energy Transfer Partners, the natural gas company worth billions is one contender, and the Native peoples of North Dakota, primarily the Standing Rock tribe, is the other. The state turned into a battleground whenever ETP decided they had plans to put a 1,170 mile pipeline through North Dakota, all the way to Illinois, where it will be joined up with a network of pipelines and distributed from there. This is not the only pipeline (the word “pipeline” keeps ironically trying to auto-correct to pimple before I am finished typing it; I think I’m just going to stick with that hehehe), they are planning on building. In fact, it is but one cluster of pimple-lines of many. You can view their plans laid out in this PDF of their analyst meeting for 2015.

They are quite the opportunists, and these plans for new (totally unnecessary) infrastructure may be born of necessity. According to a stock analyzing website called ‘The Motley Fool,

Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE:ETP) isn’t off to a great start in 2016. That is evident by looking at earnings across its business segments, which in aggregate are down 2.6% resulting in a 13% decline in distributable cash flow.”

To an unseasoned analyst such as me, it seems that they are probably hoping that these new plans of miles and miles of new pipelines (plus the new gas processing plants in Ohio and already built in West Texas) will bring their bottom line back up. This one section of pipeline being fought over is but one piece of a much larger, pimplier PI…peline.

2300-ndpipelinemap-v2

The Standing Rock tribe is holding true to its name, standing up to this company whose plans never include keeping the environment clean and fresh, free of pockmarks. The Tribe’s federally protected reservation is only a half of a mile away from where this “pimple-line” is planned on being built, while the land is actually owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The tribe’s concern is this: in case you did not know, pimple-lines often burst, and the spills leave devastating scars when they do. Check out a briefly compiled list of spills here if you really want to know more about the environmental and economic harm that the pimple-lines bring about when broken, which often happens because of a lack of proper cleanliness and maintenance.

The Standing Rock Tribe has been battling against this pimple-line since the beginning of April when members of the Tribe began camping out in a prayer circle. They want to scrub away the gunk and protect their sacred source of water and their federally-granted and protected land. Their water and land is supposed to be protected by the Oceti Sakowin Treaty, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The treaties call for the “absolute and undisturbed” use of the area. This portion of they Little Missouri River is the same source of water their people have been using for 15,000 years.

So, in an act to keep their land and water blemish-free, this Native American tribe sued the Army Corps of Engineers (who typically grants permission for such activities on federal or federally protected land), in an attempt to remove permissions from ETP from continuing to build the pimple-line on this land. Normally, (and I did not know this until writing this article) the oil and gas companies do not even need to have any kinds of permissions to build and terrorize the land, unless it is federally or privately owned. The land that is being disputed is technically owned by the Corps, so they are the ones who were able to give permission. Which they did.

Then, the Tribe sued the Corps in order to protect their ancestral, sacred lands from potential, some would say inevitable, harm.

WOT: Is Happening Now?

As the Tribe remained gathered in between the machines to be used to dig into the land to build the pimple-lines, more and more folks showed up. Everyone, from members of other tribes, journalists, environmental activists, and plain old folks who care about human rights. They camped peacefully, waiting for the court’s ruling on whether construction would be allowed to continue.

In the meantime, there were reports of ETP using…more force than necessary, in order to try and rid the land of those pesky things (men, women, children, horses) in the way of construction. Attack dogs and mace were used to keep the people away as they bulldozed right through land that they had no right to.

Thanks to the Democracy Now! for the following video which has *LANGUAGE NSFW* . This video of the front line of this battle is what pulled at my heartstrings enough to write this article. The protesters were surprised then angered that the construction had began. As I understand it, at this point, the construction was supposed to be at a standstill as the protesters and companies were awaiting the final court ruling.

The ruling finally occurred on Friday, September 9th U.S. District Judge James Boasberg issued a ruling denying the injunction request to stop or halt the construction. However, three different government agencies, the Department of Justice, of the Army, and of the Interior reacted by immediately issued a joint statement to stop the authorization of construction on federally controlled lands. Click here to read the exact wording of the ruling.

What the ruling actually states is,

“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.”

All this really does is put off how much time it is going to take for this pimple to pop.

If even federally protected land is not not actually protected against the company with the biggest bottom line, you can bet your bottom dollar that no one’s is.

Not to fear-monger. We just deserve to know. Make some noise.
Karma comes around, and we the people are sick of being run over by the 1%.

Why: Keep Fighting?

Because the news and media tend to look a little negative, let’s focus on the positive. There are people, thousands of people, who are special simply because they care enough to demonstrate their power. Some reports have said that there were over 4,000 people gathered at one time. This issue struck me particularly whenever I had a couple of activist friends make the journey to North Dakota to stand with the tribes. Remember, there are people who care, who are brave and compassionate enough to do what needs to be done. Which sometimes, is just to be there, and be making an effort.

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Why this tiny battle on the larger scale of climate war is so important? Because we are running out of time. At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference which happened in Paris, some actual important mandates were made. Whether or not you believe in climate change, the leaders of the world do; leaders from the 196 countries who attended the conference do, in fact. What came of this meeting is the understanding that if we don’t curb climate change, there will be significant catastrophic effects worldwide. Some of these are: entire island countries disappearing like unfortunate Atlantis underwater; coastlines receding miles inland, of course ruining entire cities; more and more extreme climate occurrences, like hurricanes, flooding, and droughts.

There are real numbers involved here. If we warm up the planet more than 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next 14 or so years, that will be our new global reality.

That is why these warriors on this seemingly unimportant open field somewhere in North Dakota are so important to the future of, well, everyone.

It makes no sense to continue building infrastructure for what must soon, very soon, be an extinct industry.

ETP, you need to ask yourself WOT in the world you are doing.

Then, let’s turn inward and ask our collective-selves, what small things on a day-to-day basis can we be doing to make a difference?

How to Help Louisiana Flood Victims

in Current Events/News by

Banding together in times of need is a practice as old as disaster itself.

In our age of information and pseudo-enlightenment we can look at our personal screens (tv’s, computers, phones, tablets, even watches and glasses) and witness the devastation of a disaster on the opposite side of the world as quickly as we can view a disaster just a state away.

Instead of letting this desensitize, let it energize!

The facts are, heaving raining has caused flash-flooding in many parts of Louisiana. Unfortunately the death count is rising, though not as quickly as the number of those displaced, and most politicians flooded in limelight have remained silent on this event.

A few days ago, after reading this article written by Dallas News columnist

doggy

(sorry the photo is a bit blurry.)

Instead of going on about my day with a sense of ego inflation at being more educated about what is going on just a state over from my residency in Texas, I called my big sister, a resident of West Monroe, to ask her if she knew of any organization who were helping flood victims as we speak. She is not experiencing any devastation from extreme weather currently, but did have the waters invade her home (a new living room floor and a replacement piece of was of the walls was in order) a few months ago when the floods hit back in March. That is her dog Shipley pictured above.

My sister’s sentiments were that there are still people in her own city that have not been able to move back into their homes from when the skies opened up in March. “It happens a lot in natural disasters like this, where at first, a lot of people will be helping, donating their time and money, but whenever the initial shock and media buzz dies off, so does the help and volunteer work.” Wow, how true, and what a shame. We must continually stick together, lest we all float away!

Feeling a bit more disheartened after this conversation, I clung to hope in my sister’s words that she would let me know if she heard of any organizations helping out over the next few weeks, and I set out to stay informed. That was easy, since I had tuned my attention to the matter. You know how that goes, yeah? Whenever you start to pay attention to something, like a funny word or a new kind of music, it seems like your life is filled with more of that thing that ever before. The mind is a beautiful creation, my friends.

On my Facebook newsfeed this morning was a post from a talented local makeup artist. She is currently attending the Aveda Institute Dallas. Art and activism combine here, as they are hosting a Guest Appreciation Event where you can find all products discounted by 20%, as well as many services like facials and manicures. All of the proceeds from these event are going to flood victims in Louisiana. I don’t think I am exaggerating whenever I call this event and act of kindness, beautiful.

After being inspired from this event, I then simply Googled the words: “How to help Louisiana flood victims.” Here I found a wonderful article of organizations dedicated to flood relief in my sister state already compiled! Thank you, Peter Slattery of The Daily Beast, for putting this piece together to make it easy for the layman to reach out a helping hand.

Even though my car needs repairs, my cat decided to use my bike tires as a scratching post rendering them unusable, and I’m not super sure where I’m going to be living after this next 2 and a half months is over with, I decided I could definitely part with $10. United Way of Louisiana, thank you for your work, and may that ten bucks added to the pot sit comfortably with all of the other small donations, and actually make a difference to some folks.

Too many times our memories are short lived. Many floods have happened and many more shall. If you feel so inclined, so what you can here now, and let your good deed empower and inspire you.

Thank you for reading! Comments and subscriptions are appreciated. Happy Thursday!

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