Tree Cutting at the Hall School

I know that the Hall School really needs a new building–the old one is falling apart.  So it was all approved by the city and the voters, and they are going to build it this summer.  That is a good thing for our neighborhood.  But the sad thing is that they are cutting three acres of trees to make room for the new building and a new road into the complex.  This is right next to the walk I usually take each day–I go a few blocks over to the trail by the Capisic Brook, and then go round to the other side of Hall School to continue walking through another little woods.  The brook trail hasn’t been disturbed, but the rest of it is practically gone.

It makes me sad that new development destroys these city forests, which offer so much habitat for critters, and beauty for city dwellers like me.

Tree-Cutting at the Hall School

Standing Rock-What to do Now!

Write YOUR comment to the Army Corps of Engineers demanding a comprehensive environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Click: “Click to Open and Write Comments” to go to IEN page and follow instructions there. We have added 25 Reasons to Oppose this pipeline below. We’ve also provided links to more information if needed.

Stand alongside the indigenous leaders who brought over 500 tribes together to Protect the Water for millions downstream.

Stand with the hundreds and thousands of people who braved the cold in North Dakota and loudly proclaimed; MNI WICONI – WATER IS LIFE!

Stand with the millions of people supporting us from across the U.S. and around the world – SAY; “NO DAPL!”

From the first days in office Trump has made it no secret that he will do whatever he can to finish this and other pipelines. He cares nothing for the future of our nation or people as he pushes us ever-closer to becoming a resource colony for the world. He went another step further and ordered the US Army Corps of Engineers to stop their comprehensive environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline and grant the final permit.

WE are not going to stand by and allow this to happen…It’s up to us to deny that request. Please add your comments of opposition to DAPL TODAY!

A complete review is needed to assess the impacts on drinking water, tribal rights and the climate and we need your help to make it happen so, Please share this page with your social networks. Thank you!

IEN’s Dallas Goldtooth  asked Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe permission to share an outline (below) of issues discussed in our engineering report to assist in forming opinions and comments. You can read the  FULL REPORT and the COVER LETTER

At any time, construction, could resume – unless we flood the Army Corps with REASONS they MUST conduct the full environmental review that includes impacts to land, water, and people along the pipeline route, violations to long-standing tribal rights, and the future consequences to climate change if we continue down this path.

Illegally forcing this project through is an obvious example of corruption — AND a gross violation of Indigenous rights and the science of climate change. Trump and members of his administration stand to PROFIT personally from the completion of DAPL. He owns stock in the Dakota Access and has never proven otherwise. Another prime example of Big Oil’s influence on our government and the violation of our rights if we don’t stand up and say NO!

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose drinking water and sacred sites have been desecrated by this pipeline, already announced plans to sue to stop any action to expedite DAPL. Every comment we send bolsters their legal case that the federal government would be abandoning their own rules and procedures by illegally forcing the project through.

To help you compose an original comment to submit (very important, as canned comments are combined and counted as just ONE comment reducing the appearance of overwhelming opposition) we’ve provided a DAPL Environmental Assessment Explanation of Issues by Steve Martin a citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians of North Dakota:

  1. The finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the crossing of Lake Oahe in a HDD tunnel 92’ below the surface of the lake is a wrong conclusion presented by the DAPL EA and initially supported by USACE.
  2. The DAPL EA was prepared with a pre-decisional intent and is a biased document that appears to have been prepared with the desired result known from the outset.
  3. The DAPL EA lacks engineering integrity. The FONSI can neither be supported by previous precedent nor generally accepted industry practice and should be vacated immediately.
  4. Not enough reasonable alternatives were seriously considered by DAPL to address the unresolved conflicts between stakeholders. In particular, routing alternatives.
  5. The DAPL solution is the perfect technical storm and relies on the worst of all potential technical factors, including: (1) crude oil product (2) in a large-diameter pipeline and (3) in a 1.5 mile-long HDD tunnel 92 feet below the surface of the lake.
  6. So much emphasis was placed on following the existing Northern Border gas pipeline routing completed in 1983 that an alternative route further north that would have resulted in no major or minor river or lake crossings was not even contemplated.
  7. It is inappropriate to authorize DAPL to cross Lake Oahe as contemplated in the EA without further analysis, more rigorous exploration and analysis of siting alternatives. Accordingly, the USACE did not grant easement to cross Lake Oahe as contemplated based on the current record.
  8. Preparing a full Environmental Impact Statement is the best and most responsible recommendation at this stage given the level of conflict between stakeholders and fatal flaws thus far discovered resulting in an inadequate EA.
  9. The USACE have clearly sided with the obvious need for the tribal government leaders and representatives or experts to be granted the ability to review and respond to the critical documents that had been previously kept secret from the tribe. These documents are
    • Lake Oahe Spill Model Discussion Report
    • Lake Oahe HDD Risk Analysis Report
    • DAPL Route Comparison.
  10. It is disappointing and troubling that these documents have still not been made available by DAPL to the tribes team of technical experts.
  11. The DAPL solution is the perfect technical storm and relies on the worst of all potential technical factors, including: (1) crude oil product (2) in a large-diameter pipeline and (3) in a 1.5 mile long HDD tunnel 92 feet below the surface of the lake.
  12. Without access to do a full technical review to evaluate further technical difficulties and based on what what was presented in the DAPL EA, there is no foundation that this is the least risk alternative or the finding of no significant environmental impact.
  13. The business interests of DAPL have compromised the integrity and responsibility of the engineers responsible for the DAPL project.
  14. The selection of the route was not based on the route posing the least risk alternative and that alone should be reason to support the need for a full review as contemplated by the USACE memo of December 4th.
  15. It has become well known that DAPL has negotiated commercial off-take agreements that required the pipelines commercial operation by January 1, 2017. It should be investigated further as to whether the routing recommended was premature and may have been the fallout of DAPL’s management desire to shorten the time to full commercial operation.
  16. The decision to recommend the routing under Lake Oahe appears to be the direct result of the heavy weighting DAPL applied to the requirement to follow the existing corridor in the questionable and subjective evaluation tables 2.1 and 2.2 in the EA. This was by far the dominating factor in the outcome of their analysis. Alternative objective routes should be evaluated.
  17. The results of the EA and the FONSI allowed USACE to prematurely issue the highly-contested Section 408 permit. Unfortunately, the result led to the requirement to place the crossing at Lake Oahe.
  18. What the EA failed to evaluate or even present was another alternative route even further North and East of the Missouri River that should have been evaluated. This alternative routing has no major or minor river or lake crossings and is actually shorter than the current DAPL proposed routing.
  19. The key factor we would like to emphasize that the EA fails to discuss objectively is the fact that no similar application of a crude oil large diameter pipeline exists that crosses a freshwater lake via a large-diameter HDD tunnel anywhere in the World.
  20. The DAPL solution is the perfect technical storm and relies on the worst of all potential technical factors, including: (1) crude oil product (2) in a large-diameter pipeline and (3) in a 1.5 mile long HDD tunnel 92 feet below the surface of the lake.
  21. This design solution culminates in such an extreme high level of potential environmental and safety risk that an EIS is required because The EA does not currently address a leak or spill in the HDD section and full remediation of a clean-up of contaminated soil around the tunnel. Actually, clean-up of a spill in the HDD tunnel outside the pipe is a technical impossibility to perform.
  22. Unfortunately, the worst in this case means that any leak or spill in the HDD section results in permanent and deep contamination to the surrounding soils 92’ below the surface of the lake. Those contaminated soils will inevitably seep and poison the Hell Creek and Fox Hills aquifers and waters of Lake Oahe. The Hell Creek and Fox Hills formations are the major aquifers in the state and many residents depend on these formations for the water usage. These are regional aquifers for not only North Dakota but also other surrounding states.
  23. It appears placement of the HDD tunnel could not be any lower than the 92’ section because it would have run into the Pierre Formation, a dark grey to black shale that has low strength and has the high risk potential for causing landslides. Concerns about landslides have been presented by various local stakeholders as a significant project risk, including the Accufacts report prepared on behalf of the Standing Rock tribe dated October 28, 2016. The EA seems to support that this risk does not exist and we don’t have enough information to credibly confirm or deny this at this time.
  24. It is a proven fact that significant pipeline leaks and spills do occur regularly cannot be credibly denied. Project sponsors involved with this project thus far have completely ignored that the HDD crossing at Lake Oahe would become one of the rare examples of a perfect pipeline that never leaks or ruptures if it were to avoid soil and water contamination.
  25. NEPA requires the best currently available technical data be used in impact assessment. There is no way to mitigate a leak or rupture from contaminating the soil and water if a leak should happen in the HDD tunnel 92’ below the surface of the Lake.

Prophecy, # 2

To be a community of prophecy we must see what is happening, say what is happening and act in accordance with what we know.

Right now, there are so many layers to see, and sometimes what is on the surface may be important to us, but is actually being used as a smokescreen for something else that has been hidden. We’ve got to really search for the meaning underneath events, for the important truths hidden behind the drama.

For example, a week before the inauguration of Donald Trump, Representative John Lewis stated that he would not attend it, because he felt that the interference wielded by Russia cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election. Trump immediately attacked Lewis in a tweet, said he was all talk and no action. The media rushed to defend Lewis, bringing out interviews about how he is a true American hero in the cause of Civil Rights. It might seem that they were trying to speak real truths in the face of falsehoods.

But later I read an article in Daily Kos, an online news journal, that gave me new insight about this. The writer, Dartagnan, pointed out that Trump is an expert on creating flashy outrageous distractions via his tweets, and most of the media follow along—so no one was paying much attention to why the Russians may have been trying to influence the election. Dartagnan uncovers the deeper story that much of the media ignored. He writes:

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on [January 13], Trump confirmed that he’s “open” to lifting sanctions imposed by the US against Russia… The media are lazily treating Trump’s statement as if [the most recent sanctions] are the only sanctions “at issue.” But they’re not.  The far more significant sanctions are the ones [the US] imposed [in 2014] for the Russian invasion of Crimea.  In particular, imposition of those sanctions put up a roadblock to a $500 Billion dollar oil deal between ExxonMobil and Russia for jointly developing oil and gas properties in the Arctic.

.The Russian “state-owned” Rosneft corporation, [is] run by Igor Sechin, ….Putin’s “de facto deputy.”  Sechin was specifically sanctioned by the Treasury Department in 2014 as a response to the destabilization of Ukraine and the deal was blocked by those sanctions. Putin knew going in to the 2016 election that if he could install [someone] like Trump those sanctions would very likely be lifted in a heartbeat, with billions of profits going directly to Putin and his cabal of oligarchs, all with enormous financial interests in the project. …The deal was in fact authored by [Rex] Tillerson, which gives us a clear rationale why he is the perfect person, from Putin’s point of view, to be our Secretary of State.”

Our capacity to exercise prophetic witness is dependent upon our ability to see through the smokescreens put up by the new administration, and dig deeper for the power deals that are being conducted, and for whose benefit. It means turning to news sources whose reporters are willing to dig deep to uncover the issues beneath the surface.

Understanding the implications of the Exxon-Russia deal makes me wonder if most of Trump’s more outrageous statements are merely meant to stir up his base, and inflame his opponents. Perhaps he doesn’t really care what happens to women, or people of color, or GLBTQ people, or Muslims, or even immigrants—not that he can’t generate a lot of damage. Damage has already been done.

But it also may all be a distraction to syphon off the energies of resistance, while he quietly goes about consolidating the power of the super rich and multinational corporations. It may really be about generating outlandish profits through a complete corporate takeover of the land and resources of this country. That could be fatal to the environment and the capacity for all of us to have a future on this planet.

I am not saying that we should ignore what is happening to people who are vulnerable to this new climate of hate. We must continue to speak and act in solidarity with all who are targeted. But to be a community of prophecy we must open our eyes on many levels, and reveal what is meant to be kept hidden.

Sun through Trees

Book Launch Party

book-2-send

[Photo by Rick Kimball]

On January 14, I had my first book reading and a wonderful book launch party for Finding Our Way Home: A Spiritual Journey into Earth Community.  It was organized by several members of Allen Avenue UU Church, and held at the church, but open to the public.  Thank you Mark, Cathy, Connie, Sally, Sonia, Tirrell, and Sharon, and everyone who brought food, and everyone who came.

Book Launch Party MD

[Photo by Margy Dowzer]

I did a reading from the book, and sold and signed many copies. There was music by Dale Churchill and lovely refreshments, including a cake reproducing the cover of the book.  It was the perfect launch, since so many ideas and stories in the book were born in the context of my relationship with this community of people.  Thank you everyone!

Book Cake MD

[Photo by Margy Dowzer]

Business Is Funny

title-pageMy book, Finding Our Way Home: A Spiritual Journey into Earth Community is now available for $17.99 through Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and via special order at your local bookstore through Ingram, as well as directly from lulu.com.  You can follow the links, or search using my name.  It may ask you, Did you mean “Mike Johnson”?  Say, no, “Myke Johnson.”

A funny thing.  If I go to its listing  at Amazon.com, it also says there are “2 used and 11 new copies” available from other sellers. But obviously, there are no used copies in existence yet–this is a print-on-demand book that was just released.  But there are all kinds of discount booksellers who list it at prices varying from $14.52 to $24.44 plus shipping.

From the business side of things, it is still better for me (financially) when folks order it directly from lulu.com or get a copy from me in person.  This is because other sellers take over half the list price, so I receive about a third of what I would receive if someone ordered it directly from lulu.com.  On the other hand, if someone orders it from their local bookstore, it helps to support local booksellers, which is fabulous. And I myself use Amazon.com for its convenience and speed, and its free shipping when I accumulate a few titles. Plus, you can look “inside” the book on their website.  So all in all, it feels good to have it listed out there in multiple venues, so folks can get a copy in the easiest way.

It has been illuminating to learn more about the business side of book publishing.  I don’t expect to make a lot of money from this adventure in publishing, but I do want to get the message out to wherever it might be welcome.  It is up to me to do the promotion and marketing for the book.  But it won’t really work without some help from my friends. Thanks very much to those who have already purchased a copy!

And thanks very much to some wonderful members of my congregation who are hosting a book launch party this weekend.  If you are near Portland, Maine it is from 12-2 at the Allen Avenue UU Church on Saturday, January 14th.  There will be copies of the book to buy, a reading of selections from the book, music, refreshments and I will sign your copy. Everyone is invited.

Other ways you can help:  If you read the book and appreciate its message, tell your friends about it or give it as a gift.  Share it on Facebook.  You can also help promote it by writing a review under its listing at lulu.comAmazon.com, or BarnesandNoble.com and then sharing it via Facebook or Twitter.  Thank you in advance!

#NoDAPL

One of the most important actions of our time is taking place right now.  The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and thousands of Native and non-Native allies are peacefully camping near the junction of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers, to protect the water from contamination.  These are the waters that the Tribe relies on for its water supply.  Water is life, water is sacred. This is a non-violent gathering to pray and to stand up for life, named the Camp of the Sacred Stones.

But construction has already begun on the Dakota Access Pipeline, meant to carry fracked crude oil from the Bakken plains through North and South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois where it will be refined. The plan is for the pipeline to go underneath the river, despite the risk that creates for the tribe and for millions of others who rely on the Missouri for water.

As the tribal spokespeople remind us, oil pipelines break, spill and leak—it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of where and when. In fact, a route close to Bismarck was deemed not viable due to its proximity to Bismarck, and the fact that the route crossed through or in close proximity to several wellhead source water protection areas, including areas that contribute water to municipal water supply wells. Yet despite these real consequences, the Army Corps of Engineers never took a hard look at the impacts of an oil spill on the Tribe, as the law requires. No explanation has been provided as to why the health of, and protection of water resources on which, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal members depend are any less significant or vital as those of the City of Bismarck.

Instead, now the pipeline is set to run through land that is sacred to the Tribe. Federal law requires that sacred places be protected in consultation with the Tribe, but the Corps has not complied with that requirement, either.

That is the bad news.  But the good news is that thousands of people have rallied to stand in solidarity with the Tribe and for the water.  In August, 10,000 people joined in prayers with the elders from the Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation.  Representatives from over 180 indigenous nations have offered support, along with faith leaders, the United Nations, and Amnesty International.

I am happy to say that my Unitarian Universalist colleagues and I are among those supporters.  I sent a letter that was signed by 100 UU faith leaders.  Here is what it said:

Mr. David Archambault II, Chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Building 1, N. Standing Rock Avenue, P.O. Box D, Fort Yates, ND 58538

August 29, 2016

Dear Chairman Archambault,

We write as Unitarian Universalist faith leaders to let you know that our prayers and support are with you in your courageous actions against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  We understand that the pipeline will cross treaty lands, burial grounds, and the Missouri River, the water source for the tribe as well as for millions of others.  We are appalled that this project was approved and construction begun without any meaningful consultation with the tribe, counter to federal law and treaty obligations. We support you in your effort to protect your sacred land and water, as well as to create a future for all of our grandchildren.

We speak as people of faith whose principles call us to respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.  In these times, when the well-being of our entire ecosystem is threatened, we honor the leadership of Indigenous peoples who are showing us a path toward creating a more beneficial relationship to the earth and all beings of the earth.

We are writing to you to offer our support, and to let you know that we are also contacting our government officials to call on them to follow treaty and federal law obligations, and to protect the water which is so utterly necessary for all life on earth.

Sincerely… (signed by me and 99 other Unitarian Universalist leaders)

Will human beings continue to destroy the water and earth, or will we open our hearts to live with respect and gratitude? The next moment of decision is when a federal court will issue a ruling on September 9th.  If you want to offer support for the earth, the water, and treaty obligations, you can find out more at the Standing Rock Tribal website.

River Magic

The Presumpscot River where we expressed our gratitude to our local river water, and prayed for the Sacred Stone camp and the waters of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

 

 

Solar Day Two

Solar Optimizers 1

Today is day two of solar panel installation, and they’ve been working on setting up the optimizers. These will attach one to each panel, and enable it to function separately from the other panels, so that if one goes out or gets shaded they don’t all go out like a string of Christmas tree lights when one goes bad. We will be able to track the performance of each panel via a website. They are also creating the electrical wiring and its protective casing that will go from the roof to the basement inverter panel.

Solar Optimizer Close Up