Alternate History: Refusal 3

The next day, everyone who worked at the Alyeska Pipeline Operations Control Center in Anchorage locked the doors, typed in the codes that would stop the flow of oil at every pump station within four minutes, and sat on their hands.

That’s not entirely accurate. Someone had brought a Sudoku book with only half the puzzles done. They played the game of who could ignore the most phone calls, emails, texts. They’d laid in a stock of food and bottled water, but someone also found it necessary to microwave a box of stale Peeps left over from last Easter. Someone had brought a carving he was working on. They sat and waited for–who would come? There was a betting pool: riot police? Hostage negotiators? Tanks? Most of them had left a letter, just in case.

About half of them had rifles, because they hunted on the weekends, and one person had brought her compound bow because she thought it would be funny, no matter how many times someone else told her that none of this was funny. “Sure it is,” she said.

*

Share what you can spare with the water protectors fighting the Sabal Trail Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Trans Pecos Pipeline.

This refusal is dedicated to all of them, past, present and future.

Alternate Histories: Refusal 2

The next day, everyone who could walk, walked in the street, and everyone who could roll, rolled in the street. At first, they would do it until someone yelled at them, and then when that person was gone they’d get back in the street. In later days, when there were more of them, they just kept walking and rolling.

When drivers or police asked them where the fuck they were going, at first they said, “Work,” or “The store,” or “My girl’s house,” or “School.” Later, sometimes, they said, “Boston,” or “The ocean,” or “The future.”

They got where they were going whenever they happened to get there. So they made other refusals possible: their supervisors had a choice as to whether to mark them late, cops had a choice of whether to harass and threaten and hit them, drivers had a choice whether to honk or keep quiet. People on either side of a desk or checkout counter–social worker and client, checkout clerk and customer–got where they were going at the same time, just later. The number of cars abandoned by the side of the road increased, incrementally.

Sometimes there were just a few people, strung like beads in ones and twos along a road in a small town. Sometimes hundreds, thousands of people were walking and rolling, all the mobile people in a city.

Over at the feedlots, the stockmen opened the gates and turned off the electricity and the cows stumbled out to walk among the humans and eat the bitter grass by the side of the road.

*

In honor of this refusal, please write to the North Dakota Legislative Assembly, especially the transportation committee, and tell them that House Bill 1203–which would allow drivers to hit protesters with their cars with impunity–is disgusting and inhumane. If you, too, get on a roll, there are similar bills proposed in Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa and Washington State.

This refusal is in memory of Mark Baumer.

Alternate Histories: Refusal 1

The next day, every medical and dental practice that treated a member of Congress removed their annual checkups and their colonoscopies and their root canals and their physiotherapy appointments from their schedules.

From that day forward, every medical receptionist looked blank when a congressperson came in. The dermatologists and urologists said they were so sorry, but they weren’t taking new patients. Pharmacists shrugged and said they’d never received that prescription. Chiropractors and podiatrists and acupuncturists, even the few psychotherapists–all  doors were closed, all voices smooth and regretful.

At the urgent care clinic, congresspeople watched old people in compression hose, little kids with cold sores, a pregnant woman in her early 40s, a blue-haired person in a wheelchair go in ahead of them to see a doctor. We’re sorry, they said at the desk, we’re sorry, we can’t help you.

*

This refusal is accompanied by an invitation to call elected officials about the Affordable Care Act, today, if you live in Providence and are free between 12 and 3; by a second invitation to pay attention to Fight4Medicare and see what you can do for them in the coming days.

This refusal is in memory of Esmin Green.

House Bill No. 1203 in North Dakota

Here is the text of North Dakota House Bill No. 1203, which would make it legal for North Dakota drivers to hit people with their cars if those people are walking in the road. The articles I’ve seen about this state that the bill is a response to the civil disobedience of water protectors at Standing Rock.

Here is the email I just sent to the members of the Transportation Committee, through whom (if I understand correctly) the bill would have to pass:

Dear [Representative]:

I’m writing to ask you to refuse to advance Mr. Kempenich’s House Bill No. 1203, which would protect North Dakota drivers from the consequences of injuring or killing pedestrians with their cars.

I saw on the legislature page that you have children and grandchildren. Imagine saying to your child, or imagine your constituents saying to their children who they were teaching how to drive, “If you hit and kill someone, if it’s under such-and-such circumstances, you won’t get in trouble.” Once you’ve said that, does it really matter what the “such-and-such circumstances” are? Wouldn’t you then be saying that when they’re driving, they don’t need to care about other people’s safety–or that they can be the person who decides who lives and who dies, who’s widowed or orphaned,  who’s disabled for life? Are those the drivers you want on North Dakota roads, or any roads?

Although I don’t live in your state, I was moved to write to you because it’s possible that this bill could set a precedent for others. It is inhumane and dangerous. When House Bill No. 1203 comes before you, I urge you and the other members of the Transportation Committee to stop it from going any further.

Thank you,

Kate Schapira

Providence, RI

*

The Transportation Committee meets on Thursdays and Fridays. If you have a moment tonight or tomorrow, please call them or write them a letter–feel free to use mine or to create your own.Please let them know that people outside the state are watching this, and reject it utterly and with disgust.

Support Providence City Council’s Anti-Power Plant Resolution, 1/19/17

The Providence City Council is meeting TOMORROW (Thursday), 1/19, to consider a resolution in opposition to the proposed fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville, RI–a power plant that Burrillville has already said it doesn’t want, that Woonsocket and Pascoag have already refused to supply water for, that would disrupt or destroy even more of the natural systems that sustain our lives.

The resolution would also enable the City Council to begin blocking Providence Water from supplying (through Johnston, who agreed to sell it to the power plant, but gets their water from Providence Water) the water that the power plant would need.*

If you’re free between 7 and 8 pm TOMORROW (Thursday), 1/19, please come to Providence City Hall, 25 Dorrance St., and show your support for this resolution and your rejection of the power plant.

Here are more details, including a link to the text of the resolution, and you can RSVP here as well.

*I know–it’s complicated. But worth understanding!

Rally TODAY for free public transit for people on low fixed incomes

RIPTA’s no-fare bus pass for elderly people and people with disabilities allows people to get to appointments, see families, buy groceries without impacting their fixed–and often limited–incomes. RIPTA has been trying to eliminate this pass, even though doing so would make many people’s circumstances more strained and their lives more isolated. Today, there’s a rally at the State House (82 Smith St, Providence) at 10:30am to protect it.

I’ve posted here before about why this is important: far-reaching, well-used and well-supported public transportation is an important tool in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, and sustaining each other is an important practice in both fighting and living with climate change. This is a good time to form the habit of noting and meeting vulnerable people’s needs when we can, because more of us may be vulnerable very soon.

There is also a petition, which for small-scale local issues like this may be helpful.

Hope to see some of you at the rally today.

Tell Johnston Town Council not to sell water to Invenergy

Thanks to a reader’s tip, I learned that Invenergy is approaching the town of Johnston in an attempt to buy water from them for their fracked-gas power plant, and that their town council is meeting tonight to vote on it–at the same time as Woonsocket’s City Council, whom Invenergy also approached.

Johnston is not offering residents an opportunity to comment publicly on this deal, and neither they nor Invenergy have released any of its details.

Rhode Island friends, everybody who’s ever said to me at the Climate Anxiety Counseling booth or elsewhere “I wish there was something I could do”: if you have time today to call or email the members of the Johnston Town Council and urge them not to sell water to Invenergy, that would be a good thing to do.

Calling is probably better than emailing, but either is good.

You could draw on the email I sent yesterday to the members of the Woonsocket City Council, or you could say/write something like this:

“My name is __________, and I live in ________. I’m asking you to please vote NO on Invenergy’s proposal to buy water from the town of Johnston to run a power plant in Burrillville. That power plant’s going to pollute the air and water throughout the state, it’s not guaranteed to create any permanent jobs for Rhode Islanders, and Burrillville residents have said they don’t want it. Please reject this proposal.”

 

A Letter to the Woonsocket City Council

Dear Councilmembers Gendron, Sierra, Murray, Cournoyer, Brien, Fagnant and Beauchamp,

I know that on Tuesday, January 10th, the Woonsocket City Council is scheduled to vote on whether to sell Woonsocket water to Invenergy to operate their power plant in Burrillville. Although I’m from Providence, I attended the public hearing on January 6th, and heard many people from Woonsocket speak, mostly against the deal.

The comments that struck me most sharply were the ones about being good neighbors: about Woonsocket being a good neighbor to the many people in Burrillville who have declared that they don’t want this power plant in their town, and to the other towns that have joined Burrillville in opposing the plant. About Woonsocket standing with Burrillville, one town supporting another, in the hopes that in your time of need Burrillville will stand with you; about the ways that with this support, Burrillville could then turn around and support Woonsocket by participating in your city’s economy.

I came from Providence to try to be a good neighbor, to support the Woonsocket and Burrillville residents who don’t want this health-endangering and environmentally disruptive power plant to be part of their homes—people who recognize that its long-term costs outweigh its short-term benefits. I was struck by Woonsocket residents’ other reasons for objecting to the plant as well: their fears for their health, their resentment that Woonsocket is the “dumping ground of Rhode Island”, the desire to protect the air and water and woods, their concern that Invenergy would not keep to the original terms of its deal, or that they’re being disingenuous about the amount of water the plant needs to run safely; their concerns about committing potable water to this usage, especially in light of the drought conditions that are predicted to become more common in the Northeast in the next few years.

But when Leslie Mayer said, “You have the opportunity to be heroes” to the people of your city and your future—to make the right, the neighborly choice—that rang true to me. If the people and towns of Rhode Island are able to collaborate with one another, to work together, to have each other’s backs rather than competing with each other or treating each other as enemies, our chances of surviving and thriving are better when conditions are difficult.

Please be a good neighbor to Burrillville.

Please be a good neighbor to the other cities and towns of Rhode Island.

Please be a good neighbor to the water that the people of your city drink and bathe in.

Please be a good neighbor to the trees and plants that filter the air all Rhode Islanders breathe, and to the air itself.

Please be a good neighbor to your fellow Woonsocket residents, who have given so many reasons why they don’t want the city to agree to this deal.

Please reject Invenergy’s proposal.

Sincerely,
Kate Schapira
[my address]

*

I just sent that letter, as an email, to the people on the Woonsocket City Council. Except that for about five of them, before I caught it, instead of writing “Please be a good neighbor to the other cities and towns of Rhode Island” I wrote “…cities and towns of Providence.”

Typos happen. But this typo is particularly unfortunate, because I’m writing about cities and towns working together throughout the state, keeping each other in mind, not being at odds. And I typed the name of my own city instead of the name of the entire state.

I hope it won’t invalidate my investment in this question; I don’t think it would make anyone change their minds, that mistake. But it’s careless, and chauvinistic, and I apologize for it, and will try to learn from what it has to show me about paying attention.

Still, please, help prevent Invenergy from building this power plant, because it’s bad for everyone–even the people who work for Invenergy, in the long run.

You can write to the members of the Woonsocket City Council (via a form) here.

Public Hearing in Woonsocket about Burrillville Power Plant, 1/6, 5-10pm

In order to build a fracked-gas power plant in Burrillville, RI, Invenergy needs water that they are proposing to purchase and truck to Burrillville from Woonsocket. (Woonsocket was previously considering a water pipeline for this purpose.) If you’re looking for further background, there’s a list of relevant articles at the bottom of the one linked above.

The Woonsocket City Council is having a public meeting on Friday, January 6th, 5-10pm, Woonsocket High School. PLEASE NOTE THAT I HAD THE TIME WRONG BEFORE! If you can, please attend and let the City Council know that this is a bad idea for many reasons:

Rhode Island should be investing in new renewable energy infrastructure, not new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Because of the unsustainability of these forms of energy, jobs related to them are unlikely to last long (and Invenergy may bring in their own people for some of them); the proposed Woonsocket water facility would provide a maximum of three jobs, according to the article linked above.

The pollution, noise and traffic from the trucks, especially on smaller roads and roads through woods.

The pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the plant itself, which contribute to climate change and all its various effects on our food, air, water, weather and safety.

Unless I’m missing something, all that water will be unusable for anything else after they use it for this. (If anyone has information about this, let me know.)

*

This is a complicated situation because Woonsocket is a financially strained city and could use the money (which is, of course, why Invenergy made them the offer). So if you participate in this process by going to the public meeting, which I encourage you to do (I am), consider also participating in other processes that might help support Woonsocket’s human economy and sociality without doing quite so much damage to the nonhuman world. I’ll try to keep an eye out for what those might be and post them here.

 

 

Stand with Standing Rock: Out-of-state Legal Support for Water Protectors

The Water Protectors who will shortly go on trial for their work at Standing Rock are seeking out-of-state legal representation, so that all of them can have informed, well-prepared, unbiased counsel.

The North Dakota Supreme Court is taking comments through 4pm today. Here’s the comment I wrote and sent to Clerk of Court Penny Miller at pmiller AT ndcourts DOT gov and info AT ndcourts DOT gov

“Dear Ms. Miller:

I write to urge the North Dakota Supreme Court to allow out-of-state legal representation for the Standing Rock Water Protectors at their trials. The state does not at present have enough public defenders to adequately represent all of these defendants, many of whom cannot afford to pay for counsel. Permitting this will increase the chances of adequate counsel and representation for the people on trial.”

Feel free to copy and paste that, or add your own reasons, but do it by 4pm TODAY.