Gut Check

Goldman Sachs has announced it will stop financing oil drilling in the Artic. They are reckoning with something that the United States government has yet to realize.  As the White House rushes to open bidding on 1.5 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Goldman Sachs is refusing to continue to support drilling in such delicate and important reserves.  They will also no longer support coal–fired power plants that do not have carbon emissions technology.

Now we know that Goldman Sachs is devoted to making money, so we can surmise that its stockholders are coming to the truth of this moment: There is no monetary gain in destroying the earth.

As a people we have been divided over the cause of climate change, but as we become witness to the devastation of fires, floods and unprecedented winds, we are acknowledging this: the costs to survive these calamities will continue to be much greater than the costs to mitigate them.

Capitalism is being moved by the bottom line of profit. But make no mistake; the efforts of young indigenous and non-indigenous youth to end the use of fossil fuels have hit their mark. They wisely recognize that profit can no longer lead the way. It must be common sense and respect for the earth and her people that will direct our course.

There is a debate that the personal choice to live free of fossil fuels is not as important as forging a change of laws. But I would argue this: it is those who have the conviction of personal conscience and love of the earth that are driving the changes in laws and perspectives.

The Rights of Nature and the Rights of Indigenous People must continue to take precedent. As human beings on this earth it is time.


Photo is of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, looking south toward the Brooks Range mountains. Compliments of Wikipedia Commons.

Return Local Control

When people visit our farm here in the Driftless, I am usually surprised by their lack of awareness concerning sustainable farming practices versus industrial agriculture.  When large-scale animal compounds are compared to small sustainable and multi-dimensional farms, it’s apparent the regulations that govern them should differ. Run off and ruptured manure lagoons of large-scale operations have killed fish and disturbed eco tourism. The nuisances of smells, sounds and sights have diminished property values and have caused significant strife among neighbors. The jump to become a large-scale producer is pricey and has left a lot of small farms in the wake. Yet somehow they have been labeled “progress” and have, for the most part, been given a pass by Wisconsin regulators.

Now for the first time in over ten years the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection is seeking input from citizens regarding the rules that govern large livestock facilities. The rules are known as ATCP 51. These public hearings begin today, August 15th and run through September 5thin six locations throughout the state. Wednesday, September 4thin Onalaska is our region’s nearest hearing.


If you live rurally, and would like an opportunity to have your voice heard on the issues raised by unchecked confined animal feed operations, or if you live in the city and enjoy visiting the beauty of rural Wisconsin, this is your moment to help preserve it.

In recent years, our state’s laissez-faire towards regulating corporate business has put numerous strains on local communities and neighbors trying to protect the environment and their homes from unwanted nuisance. The deck has been stacked in favor of corporations, as a systematic crippling of local control has gone largely unnoticed.  It’s time to notice.

For more detailed information on the proposed changes to ATCP51 visit: Wisconsin Farmers Union.


Honoring Heroes

It’s the fourth of July and some people will mark this day with beer, burgers and brats. Others will shy away from fireworks and large crowds, still hampered by PTSD and the ravages of war. Still others will be hard at work on farms beleaguered by heavy rains and an unpredictable growing season.

And some will be trying to turn the tide of the environmental and human disasters looming on the horizon.

Acts of love for this land and its people are made everyday. From water protectors living in treetops to rural elders demanding regulations on sand mining, people everywhere are discovering that love of place is critical to our survival.

On July fourth, we are called upon to show our love and respect for our country. We honor our warriors and we praise their devotion to freedom. And that is as it should be. But make no mistake: those who stand for clean water and those protecting our air are among our greatest patriots. As are the people on the border and around the country who demand that asylum seekers be treated with dignity and respect.

And you can add to the list of heroes the local people fighting to preserve our pristine hills from unnecessary transmission lines and cell towers.  These heroes are utilizing their love and effort to preserve this land we call home. So when you bow to the heroes who have fought in endless wars, remember too, the individuals who are fighting a different kind of war. They are fighting battles against ignorance and greed. They are fighting to give our children freedom from disease by preserving the right to clean air and water. And they are protecting human dignity as they refuse to accept our government’s inhumanity. Let us celebrate these heroes. And let’s find a way to help them.


 Comment online to the PSC regarding the Cardinal Hickory Creek transmission lines has been extended to July 7.

photo: Wikipedia Commons 

The Power of Inclusion

It seems these days you have to grab hold of hope wherever you find it. While cleaning my house I accidentally tuned into the inaugural ceremony of Tony Evers to become the 46thgovernor of Wisconsin. Ever the political cynic, I half-heartedly gave my ear to the broadcast. As the opening songs commenced my first reaction was “nice touch” as I listened to the young and diverse people performing. And I began to feel the inclusion and welcoming of this new day.

The next moment that caught my attention was the introduction of the MC and his telling of being a Big Brother. He made me smile as he told us how much he gained in giving his time to another, and I moved closer to the radio and gave myself permission to listen with a bit more intent.

It was time for the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. And when the MC informed us that the pledge would be led by the youth of GSafe, I knew I would be listening to the inauguration in its entirety.

GSafe for those of you, who may not know, is an organization in support of gay youth. Having grown up without that kind of support or that kind of inclusion, I was really touched and began to cry. I realized again the power of inclusion and the wisdom of it.

And then the words of Bella Wabindato of the Bad River Tribe really hit home. She spoke of the importance of water and the love she has of her people. And she told us, “ racial equity would mean that other people see my people as I do, as people.”

The greatest leaders are those who allow others to lead. We are so ready for this.

Best wishes Governor, continue to surround yourself with loving and kind people.

We will all benefit.




You can listen to this piece on Soundcloud.

But Not a Drop to Drink…

Most likely today you reached for a glass of cool refreshing water. If you took it from the tap it is because you are certain it is government approved, scientifically tested and safe. If you grabbed a designer bottle you are also trusting you will be getting the one thing that after air is the most essential for life – clean water.

Me, I drink water from a spring and enjoy some of the best tasting, cleanest water I have ever had…but then, this isn’t about me and my good fortune, it is about what is happening to far too many people in our country and around the world.

What if you lived in Flint Michigan, where elected officials consciously provided tainted water for nearly two years? Or the Reservation in South Dakota, where the recent oil spill has people questioning the unknown – how long does it take until oil seeps into the aquifer and harms drinking water?

The Nebraska PSC has approved the Keystone XL pipeline to course tar sand oil through their state – from Canada to the Gulf to be sold on the foreign market. We will get a drop of the $$ exchange – but not enough to run the risk of polluting one of the most important aquifers in North America – and jeopardize the water for millions of people and life there.

But before I glaze your eyes over with details… My point to you is this: the most sinister of all factors in this ugly assault of man over earth and greed over common sense… is about the fact that far too many of us do not care. We have our glass, it is easily filled and what’s a little oil spill in Nebraska or the Gulf have to do with me?

The enemy, my friends, is not the oil or the faulty pipelines or the lies about energy security and jobs…the enemy is that we can turn our backs on one another. The enemy is that we are willing to debate that which is not debatable: we all need clean water.

We still have a chance to get this right. Let’s make it right.


This piece aired on “Consider This” Dec 7. You can listen in to WDRT 91.9FM every Thursday at 5:28 pm CST.

photo: compliments of NOHO