DustHack with PublicLab
Though not super well attended (18 or 19), the age-range in attendance and conversation was great and the event was very participatory. Forest and other participants were invited to add our thoughts/concerns/questions/goals for monitoring to big input sheets, play with creating stable housing for the minitors, and see the influence of air movement, humidity, and light on the little DustDuino sensor that PublicLab is working on. It was great to personally meet Matt Lippincott (Portland) and Stevie Lewis (New Orleans), with whom Forest has had a fair number of e-mail conversations and a couple phone calls.
So at the moment there are a few air monitoring options available. At the top of the line, there is the uber-high quality monitor that Crispin Pierce and folks had to have the big push to finance (around $34,000) which tests for particulates in the air at the PM2.5 level we have been told is the best to test for, as those are the ones that cause the most harm.
A step below that is the DustTrackII, which is on the market for roughly $6000. It will also monitor for PM2.5. Neither of these tools, however, do dust speciation (what % is silica, what is diesel fumes, what is carbonate rock...) and there are, in fact, no monitors available currently that sample specifically for crystalline silica.
PublicLab is currently playing with a couple models of air monitors that have come on the market recently in the $200 range, though both have issues that make them not ideal (one spits out arbitrary #s and the formula for what those #s mean and the actual concentrations of particulate matter in the air is proprietary). The software for one of them is being open-sourced and will likely be used in PublicLab's model.
Again, the monitor being developed by PublicLab would track PM2.5, but would not be able to parse out what was silica. However, at that point, either swab tests or a tiny filter-based air monitor ($50, plus $50-$80 per test for filter and analysis) developed by Tom Peters of UofI could feasibly be used to determine the % silica in the dust and extrapolate silica concentrations in the air that way.
PublicLab hopes to develop their monitors by April 2015 and will be calibrating them alongside the DustTrack monitors through the Summer. Though there is still a lot that is up in the air, they hope to be able to make them available to folks in the $100 range. An issue Forest learned with the current monitoring being done around some mines is that, while higher concentrations of dust will give a more accurate reading, the mines will monitor for 24 hours, and log that number (often at “negligible levels” allowing them to put 0 for the concentration) and then take an average of those daily concentrations. This gives them lower numbers since so many days were rounded off to 0, though at some points in that week dust concentrations may have reached unsafe levels.
PublicLab also really likes kites and balloons for aerial photography (with their software that allows one to stitch together the images into a whole.) Drones can only be legally flown 400' high and within sight of the operator as they are considered aircraft. Kites and balloons, on the other hand, are considered toys and can be brought up to 2000' quite easily. Mary Kenosian has begun testing out kite models, but is nervous about strapping a camera with a $1000 lens to one. Matt L is a wealth of knowledge on kites and has many models he has tried in high, medium, and low winds and recommendations for them. He suggests bamboo and tyvec for building materials.
Madison Action for Mining Alternatives “Wi Mining Standoff”/“Frac Sand Land” showing and discussion.
There were about 35 in attendance and the three videos shown were quite good. Frac Sand Land led, followed by “Wisconsin Mining Standoff”, a 25 minute AlJazeera special on the proposed Penokee mine, and a 4minute short connecting the Penokee mine resistance to the Crandon mine resistance. Bruce Noble, the 80y/o man biking the route of Enbridge's proposed pipeline expansion also attended and presented briefly.
Despite all the other competing events, fully 25 folks showed up from across the area (seven from over an hour away), and there were a couple unfamiliar faces in the audience. Skip Jones had contacted Forest weeks earlier about coming and he (joined by Ilana) played some lovely and much-needed tunes to soften the blows of information dealt out that night.
The 70 minutes of the two-hour film shown seemed to have a powerful impact and the discussion, led by friend and ally, Robert Nehman, was of high caliber and continued with everyone for half an hour after the alloted 2 hour time for the event and for well over an hour in unstructured conversation.
Rock Bottom in the Age of Extreme Energy Extraction
Forest, prompted by a conversation with Liz Rog, drove over to Decorah to see this simultaneously depressing and inspiring presentation by Tyler Norman of the Beehive Collective, sponsored by the Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County (CRAWC). The presentation included a good amount of audience participation and focused on three mining activities going on in North America: Fracking (which was tied in to FSM), tar sands extraction, and sulfide metal mining. The correlation between all these mining techniques: all are desperately scraping the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, expending huge amounts of energy and causing incredible amounts of destruction for minimal – and decreasing – returns (relying on the corrupt and submissive governments to pave the way through incentives and subsidies to profitability for this unsustainable economic model).
Rock bottom is a term used mainly in two contexts: 1) in the mining industry when every last drop of what is being extracted has been and one is forced to close down and 2) in regards to addiction. This is the point at which, generally, the addict is faced with two choices: change/quit, or die. At this point, the addict is capable of great violence and destructive behavior both to themselves and others. This is the point our civilization has reached in our addiction. Following the incredibly appropriate metaphor, often times the addict is incapable for one reason or another of quitting of their own volition, despite the immanent threats posed. This calls for an intervention, which can take many forms, but the important part to consider is that relying on addicts (and we must all own our parts in this too) to up and quit of their own volition – as a global society no less – is foolish and the ecological realities of our times no longer afford us the time to wait on everyone to come around when we are all so deeply addicted and the pushers of our addiction pull the strings of our government and the media.
John Olivas – Community Rights
Forest met Jack Knight and picked up John Olivas in Lansing, before heading to Robert Nehman's incredible not-quite-finished house (“Once this hit, I stopped working on it.”). Robert had just returned from NY (at Josh Fox's place) and reported he met with many movers and shakers at the big climate rally in NYC.
John has a powerful story and a compelling case for Mora County's decision to go with a rights-based ordinance as a way to ban hydrocarbon extraction. A point Forest also appreciated was the recognition by Mora County that, yes, they could put regulations on the book, but in a poor county with a million dollar operating budget who would regulate? We can see many parallels to that here. Regulations mean nothing if not enforced.
Robert and Jack (and Ric Zarwell, though he was not there) very much like the community rights approach as an organizing tool and for its explicit empowering of We the People, however they also think their ordinance is very solid (Forest tends to agree). John was able to speak well on the ability to pass a rights-based ordinance (which would necessarily nullify any regulatory ordinance), with a section stating that if the ordinance is ever overturned or repealed, a moratorium automatically comes into effect. This would allow time for adopting a strict regulatory ordinance, or one could feasibly have an on-deck regulatory ordinance that would automatically come into effect.
Forest then drove John to Viroqua where they ate and went to the Viroqua High School.
Roughly fifty people attended that free and open to the public event where John gave a very educational talk with questions and answers going a half-hour longer than the 8:30 scheduled end of the talk. There were folks representing Sauk County, Monroe Co, Richland Co, Allamakee Co, Vernon Co, and Crawford Co for sure and possibly more represented. Some folks have drafted a Non-metallic mining ordinance for Viroqua Township which is being considered and will come up for a vote by the township soon.
Forest hosted John at Dancing Waters for the night and the following morning
Nine people (two of them public officials: Lumin Hobbins – Bell Center Village Board, and Tom Crofton – Richland County Board) attended CSP's unadvertised invite-only meeting in Gays Mills which was more in-depth and longer than the night before in Viroqua. We learned more about Mora County's struggle to get people elected to the County Board who were supportive of a ban, of abrasive anglo activists being largely shunned and ignored in a largely Hispanic area, before some of the locals took up their cries, of the of the haggling for oil and gas tax $ at the state level, of the eventual passing of the ban, and the subsequent lawsuit by landowners and the industry. It was heartening to hear that there were a slew of lawyers who were offering their time to defend the ban pro-bono, not just CELDF. However, this may not be the case as much with frac sand mining being lower profile and any new community rights bans not being as groundbreaking/precedent setting.
August 6-9, 2014
Crawford County Fair
In the four days and just under 30 hours of tabling we brought in $47 in donations and sales. Over 20 new people joined the supporter's list, 12 additional signatures were added to our online petition, and 14 mining updates and 11 factory farming updates were handed out, along with roughly that many newsletters and frac sand maps. We sold two t-shirts, one of each frac sand mining video, a lawn sign, a bumper sticker, and a few buttons at often reduced prices ($32 in sales, $15 in donations).
Forest gifted a karst poster or a t-shirt to any of the wonderful volunteers who helped out and wanted one (Connie, Jane, Lauren, Megan, Ilana, and Rikardo). Several volunteers stayed for the whole 6 hour day! Vance Haugan was talking up the poster and how he often uses it for educational purposes, for which he was awarded another free Karst poster for his use. Karst posters were also won by five lucky folks who signed up for our supporters list and entered for a chance to win (Don Lester, Kristy Mikkelson, Bob Tumi, Dorothy Hammerand, and Cheryl Mader).
Many good conversations were had with folks who would otherwise have never heard the message. A surprising number of folks didn't know the difference between our old quarries and frac sand mining. Forest only had one conversation that could be construed as tense with - surpise surprise - an employee from Pattison's mine in Clayton. He assured us that we have nothing to fear, and accused us of spreading rumors and lies. Despite the sheer amount of hours put in and the relatively low sales and materials distributed, many good connections were made and Forest came away with the overall impression that it is very important to have a presence at the fair on an ongoing basis.
Karst Geology Field Trip w/ Dr. Kelvin Rodolfo
The event went off beautifully with 23 (I believe) in attendance, not counting CSP staff. Folks came from a broad area and we obtained a good number of new additions to the supporter list. The presentation has been honed down to the point where Kelvin says it takes 45 minutes and with an engaged audience like the one that Saturday, it takes just under an hour and a half. Kelvin is a wonderfully engaging presenter, talking about technical scientific processes and sometimes frightening subjects in a way that is accessible and often comedic. Feedback for the event was strictly positive and much interest was expressed by those in attendance when Kelvin offered to do another of these through Vernon County (where there are many good karst examples) in the Fall for CSP.
Richland Stewardship Project Price of Sand Showing at UW Richland
There were twelve in attendance total (counting Forest and the 4 RSP organizers), but conversation after the film was really good. The dean of the college was there and said he would attend the upcoming county meeting on the issues and was quite supportive. Also, two of the students who attended, Kevin Sobeck (who Forest knew from North Crawford Playhouse) and John Cleveland were very engaged and interested and were still scribbling away on a whiteboard on how to do their random sampling for the surveys they were going to conduct on public opinion and other matters when Forest finally left at 9:30pm, several hours after the program had officially ended. Quantity of people was low, but quality was high and a new demographic in Richland County was engaged into action!
The Land We Love – Echo Valley Hope Earth Day Event
Forest tabled at this event from 11-8 in the Ontario Community Center. Attendance fluctuated from 15 to 35 including organizers, presenters, and musicians. Disappointingly, despite their flier being in Spanish as well as English and a purported outreach effort to the local Latino community that lives in the trailer park, no local Mexicans were present. There were a smattering of local Ontarioans and the music was country-western by a local band and there was some two-stepping and line-dancing. Tabling were SOUL, KVR, Echo Valley Hope, VSN, and CSP. Forest was presented as one of the four “leaders” (along with Rob Danielson, Shelly Brenneman, and Andi Cloud) of the very good two hour circle-discussion on “stewardship”.
Kickapoo Valley Reserve Earth Day Event
It was a blustery day with unfortunately low turnout. There were considerably more folks last year when it was held in Gays Mills.
The speakers that we heard were very good and Forest intends on getting the video of all the presentations, watching them all, and potentially putting them up on the website (or perhaps just certain ones). A couple shirts, a poster, and a button were sold, and roughly $50 donations were brought in. Good conversations were had at the table and more names were added to the supporter list. Good conversations and connections continued afterward at the benefit concert that evening.
Wetlands of the Penokee Hills
Crawford Stewardship Project and the Lower Kickapoo Initiative brought Tracy Hames, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, to the Community Center in Gays Mills and gave a wonderful presentation on the breathtaking wetlands of the Penokee Range in Northern Wisconsin. The beauty of the incredible native functioning ecosystems there was juxtaposed with a conversation on Gogebic Taconite's proposed iron mine that would irreparably foul and bury thousands of acres of the pristine habitat. All hope is not lost, however, and between the collaboration of people on the ground at the site of the mine in Harvest Camp, supporting organizations, the tribes, the Army Corps of Engineers (who can no longer work with the WDNR as they have become so compromised), and even international attention on this site declared a RAMSAR site of international importance, we hope this economically marginal project will never come to bear.
Community Rights Organizer, Paul Cienfuegos gets folks fired up!
Paul's time in the area kicked off with a weekend workshop on community rights and rights-based ordinances in Decorah, Ia, where they have a very active group (Community Rights Alliance of Winneshiek County) who has proposed the first Rights-based ordinance to their county board in the Midwest. After his time there, Co-coordinator Forest picked him up and brought him to Gays Mills where he sat down and talked for a couple hours with the CSP board and staff on specifics of the community rights strategy and how to implement one of these rights-based ordinances. We are glad to have another powerful tool in our chest in this realm, as the threat of forces at the state level eliminating our existing ordinances becomes ever-more real.
Next, Forest and Paul headed up to Viroqua where nearly 80 people packed the three-hour mini-workshop on community rights! CSP is now proud to announce that a new group will be forming in Vernon County working in the community rights realm and on the issues we care so deeply about! Their first official meeting will be on Monday, March 17th in the Ark. This is exactly what we had hoped would come of our organizational efforts in bringing Paul Cienfuegos back to the area.
Wisconsin Local Food Network Day at the Capitol
WLFN is a relatively new organization and this was their first lobby day. There were a range of academics, state agricultural agency representatives (including Theresa Engel), and representatives from a range of smaller organizations. Jennifer Shilling was one of the speakers at the meeting/prep time before the actual lobbying happened and has been a big champion for them in past years. The two main lobbying points they focused on were Farm-to-School (maintaining/increasing funding) and Buy Local Buy Wisconsin (maintaining/increasing funding). Both of these are fantastic programs and CSP Co-coordinator Forest was happy to be able to end his lobbying stint in Madison on a high note with both of our area representatives. The lobbying was made easy by all the wonderful information backing up these programs as well as all the other less-tangible positive effects and there was a lot of joking about Forest living in the Capitol. Jennifer Shilling and Lee Nerison were both very supportive and pledged to do what they could to get as much funding as possible to these positive and productive programs.
Wisconsin Farmers Union Farm and Rural Lobby Day
The WFU lobby day was attended by perhaps 40 or so folks from all over the state. Representing CSP was Co-coordinator Forest Jahnke. We met first in the downtown MATC building where we had discussions and explanations of the four main issues:
1) SB 632/AB 816 restricting local control over frac sand mining
2) SB302/AB 679 eliminating the DNR's ability to look at cumulative impacts of high-capacity wells and imposing a 65 day deadline for approval
3) Money in electoral politics, specifically AB 225 which would double campaign contribution limits for state races
4) Investing in rural schools (special aid for transportation costs and debt-relief incentives to attract good new teachers to rural areas). There were also little postcard-style hand-ins in favor of the cookie bill (baked goods equivalent of the pickle bill allowing small-scale sales sans a legal kitchen and all that jazz).
The event went off smoothly, Forest met and networked with several great new people as well as friends/allies from before, and even got to lobby alongside Daren Von Ruden (the President of WFU).
Jennifer Shilling was, as usual very supportive of all our issues.
Lee Nerison was supportive of nearly all the issues including the newest frac sand bill, but was hedging seriously once again on the groundwater giveaway bill. Care must taken to help him understand the dire situation our water will be in if current policies continue on their current course and extraction limits are allowed to loosen. As much as we might want to, we cannot legislate as much water for everyone as everyone wants forever. Our water must be held in public trust and treated carefully and respectfully.
State of the Tribes Address and Anti-mining Rally on the Steps
The address took place at 1:00pm in the legislative chambers and was well attended by both legislators and the public, who packed the gallery. It was delivered by Laurie Boivin, the newly elected (youngest ever) Charwoman of the Menominee Nation. She covered a huge range of topics from culture, society, and economics to health, economy, and the environment. One key point that she mentioned relating to the environment was how many native peoples choose to live far from grocery stores and other places deemed necessary for life and that what was truly
necessary for their lives was the ability to go into the woods and find food, medicine, and water there by which they could sustain themselves. For native people, a walk in the woods is not simply to take in scenic beauty or to get exercise, but it is a way of life and a cultural practice deeply rooted in tradition and practicality. She praised preservation and stewardship and sustainable ways of making a business, but avoided directly mentioning frac sand mining, or Gtac's proposed mine in the Penokees.
The rally on the steps was, attended by roughly 35 wonderful people who braved the cold to reinforce the message to the representatives in the capitol that their policies are wrongheaded and are leading us down the wrong path toward devastated landscapes and depleted and polluted waters. CSP Co-coordinator Forest was humbled to speak between President Jon Greendeer and Chairman Mike Wiggins, two leaders of sovereign first nations. The speeches were impassioned and articulate and pulled no punches, accusing those in power of abandoning their mission to represent the people of the state in favor of their corporate cronies and calling for a grassroots up-welling to resist the flawed policies coming out of Madison. Other speakers included Andi Cloud (the main organizer of the event and founder of Migizi Advocates for Turtle Island), Joe Kruse (member of the Rye House – a Catholic Worker House in Minneapolis), Thistle Petersen (Madison Action for Mining Alternatives), John Peck (Family Farm Defenders), Dena Eakles (Echo Valley Hope/Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice) and others.
February 11, 2014
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Lobby Day
Edie Ehlert and Forest Jahnke represented Crawford Stewardship Project at WLCV Lobby Day this past Tuesday, meeting with many more activists from around the state and a strong group from our district to advocate for conservation values. Specifically, the League had picked out local control (SB 349/AB 476), water (SB 302/AB 679), and frac sand mining to address to the legislators. There were many informational sessions and productive conversations were had with both Lee Nerison and Jennifer Shilling in the capitol..