May 10, 2012
Paradise Gardens and Farm
2771 Paradise Road, Reynoldsville, PA 15851
11:00 AM to 12:30 PM (lunch and solidarity afterwards)
Contact: Stephen Cleghorn firstname.lastname@example.org
On May 12, 2012 my wife Lucinda’s remains (her ashes) will be laid to rest as protector of this organic farm and all its inhabitants – human, animal and plants – in perpetuity. Amidst the tearful and joyful celebration of the life she lived and left behind for all those who were privileged to know and love her, Lucinda will forever become part of this farm for which she cared.
Two days before that – on May 10th – I will convene a press conference to declare this farm off-limits to unconventional drilling for gas in the Marcellus Shale that lies a mile below it.
During the press conference I will make the first deposit of Lucinda’s ashes, saving the rest for the family gathering two days hence. With that deposit this land becomes sacred ground, held in trust by me and those who follow me as portion of the common wealth by which we are all sustained.
Those gathered on that day will learn a new meaning of “surface rights.” The rights of all beings whose lives are sustained at the surface and depend upon the clear, clean water that runs upon and below it will be declared the inalienable rights by which human affairs are to be conducted. I will speak of the impermeable love of the land that is present just below our feet like an invisible barrier that no drilling rig can penetrate.
“There is not a diamond bit hard enough to pierce this love for the creative Earth that sustains us, at least not here where I stand” I will say on that day. Any “property rights” that one person claims to destroy the good earth of Pennsylvania that belongs to no one because it belongs to all as part of the common wealth will be declared null and void.
I will be inviting Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Sam Smith, State Senator Joe Scarnati (both my representatives in Harrisburg), as well as representatives of the oil companies active in this area and the owners of the gas “rights” to this property to come witness my declaration and to take some time to listen to stories of people who have been harmed by unconventional drilling for gas.
Chairs behind the gathering point at the top of the beautiful hill that Lucinda so loved will be reserved with names of the invited guests on them. If they show up, they get to speak. That’s how they get to demonstrate the courage of their convictions, if they can. But the ground rule will be that they have to listen first, as Lucinda’s sister (her only sibling) speaks of Lucinda’s love for this land. They have to first hear about and from those who have been harmed by this drilling as their stories are told.
If they do not show up, I will turn and ask the silence of each of their empty seats to speak for them.
There will be poetry. There must always be poetry. Including this from a poem called “Look Out” by writer-farmer Wendell Berry:
You will see that your place, wherever it is,
your house, your garden, your shop, your forest, your farm,
bears the shadow of its destruction by war
which is the economy of greed which is plunder
which is the economy of wrath which is fire.
The Lords of War sell the earth to buy fire,
they sell the water and air of life to buy fire.
They are little men grown great by willingness
to drive whatever exists into its perfect absence.
Their intention to destroy any place is solidly founded
upon their willingness to destroy every place.
I will be asking various grassroots organizations to stand with me as we demonstrate for all to see that a people power movement is afoot to shut down these operations since the government in Harrisburg has decided not to protect us.
My goats will be in attendance as potential new victims of drilling if I do not act to protect them. They make a pretty picture and they keep me focused on the responsibility given to me to protect their lives.
The overall tone of the gathering will be focused on empathy for the human and animal beings who are suffering here in PA from this kind of drilling, and the many more who will surely suffer. That empathy for the victims will be offered as the “narrow gate” through which our adversaries may enter to receive our loving embrace of them as, we believe, our brothers and sisters in their hearts and souls. We will ask them to arise from their stupor and let their empathy move them beyond their corporate and political allegiances. We will declare that corporations are not persons, but are organizations inhabited by real human persons capable of change.
So there you have it – a few ideas for fighting from where I live and love, and asking others to join me in that fight for an on-farm demonstration of resolve to resist the fracking, even as we appeal to the frackers and the legislators to leave the anonymity of their high corporate and governmental perches and become full human beings again.
Final note to my friends in resistance to fracking: The farm will be open to you from Wednesday May 9 through Friday May 11 if you’d like to come for some camping, sleeping in the hay loft, gathering together for meetings and coalition building, just taking a break, whatever – in addition to standing with me for this event on May 10. I just need to hear from people if they’d like to come so I can plan. Please email at the address above. – Stephen