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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cove Point protectors go to trial

Jimmy and I were standing off to the side of the hall, out of the way of foot traffic. We each had a shoulder leaned against the wall, and I had my hand on his arm as we leaned toward each other and talked quietly between ourselves. There was so much I wanted to say, but out of the corner of my eye I could see two security officers talking to each other and looking our way. Our time was short.

After some deliberation, one of the officers came over and interrupted our conversation.

“You two done here?"

It was hard not to respond with anger. I turned to the officer, still holding Jimmy’s arm.

“I’m about to leave, and I don’t know how long it will be before I see him again. We’re just saying goodbye.”

“Yeah,” Jimmy said. “I was just seeing her out.”

“Well, the door’s that way,” the officer pointed with one hand and put the other on his hip. He was unmoved.

Postponed ... Again

*This post was originally published in The Ithacan on Feb. 21

On Dec. 3 of last year, a tall 24-year-old Cornell University graduate with wild, curly blond hair was called up to the bench of Judge Raymond Berry in the Town of Reading. Kelsey Erickson was being accused of committing a violation trespass on Nov. 17 at the main gates of Crestwood Midstream, a gas storage company looking to store massive amounts of explosive gas in unstable salt caverns beneath the shores of Seneca Lake.

Left to right: John Abbe, Kelsey Erickson, Michael Clark, Jane Kendall, myself, and Jimmy Betts

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Find the Time

On Friday, after working seven hours downtown at The Ithaca Voice, I hiked up South Hill back to campus and walked straight into the Fitness Center. I removed my jewelry and tossed it into my backpack, pulled a harness on over my dress pants and got my belay certification at the rock wall.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Oil workers on strike

Walking across the country is a great way to see some amazing and unforgettable scenery. But depending on the route you take, you may come across some horrifying sights.

My five-month journey on foot from New Mexico to Pennsylvania last year wasn't all New Mexico red rock and Colorado mountains and rolling Iowa hills. It also included walking alongside cattle feedlots, touring industrial parks and passing through oil refineries.

On September 9, 2014, the March left southeast Chicago and crossed from Illinois into Indiana at the very unceremonious "State Line Avenue" road sign. Almost instantly, it seemed, we emerged into the industrial belly that is Whiting, Ind. Barbed wire fences, large tankers with obscure contents, towering smokestacks billowing smog and a Super Wal-Mart to put the cherry on top.

Soon, we were walking through Whiting's BP oil refinery, BP's largest refinery and the sixth largest refinery in the United States. In 2012, BP agreed to pay $8 million for Clean Air Act violations at this refinery, according to Oil and Gas Online.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Do humans cause climate change? Let's vote.

Our country is currently being shaken to its core with ongoing social rights issues, like racial profiling and police brutality, unequal treatment of women, gay marriage and immigration. Can you imagine what would happen if our representatives sat down to vote on whether homosexuals are born with their sexuality or if they choose it? Or what if there was a vote deciding that, despite hard numbers clearly demonstrating women are paid less than men for the same work, this was not actually the case?

The idea is absurd. Votes are supposed to be taken when deciding on a course of action, not on choosing reality... right?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

53 miles to Ithaca

I remember my first day on the Climate March like it was yesterday. I was dropped off at the Taos visitor's center where I was to meet up with the Marchers, who were arriving into the city from their day's walk. Hail was falling from an angry grey sky and the cold wind bit right through my clothes. I went inside the visitor center to take shelter while I waited.

...Then they fight, and then we win

*Originally published in The Ithacan on December 23rd, 2014

My lungs burned from climbing up the quarter mile of stairs, and the cold December air I inhaled soothed them momentarily, but then intensified the fire as I exhaled.

I smiled as I came around the corner of the gorge wall, the distant rumbling I had been hearing erupted into a gushing roar as Lucifer Falls came into sight. With a sigh I leaned against the icy wall of the trail, which wound along the cliff faces like Ithaca’s version of the Great Wall of China. The spray of Lucifer Falls that landed on the gorge walls froze in brilliant swirling ice sculptures, fashioned by the hand of nature herself. Thousands of feet below me, the water crashed into a lovely aquamarine pool, a chilly mist rising off the surface.

I took another deep breath, enjoying the sting of the frigid air. If things had gone as I planned this week, I’d be in jail right now, not enjoying a hike in Robert Treman State Park. The longer We Are Seneca Lake’s campaign to stop Crestwood Midstream’s ill-fated project to store methane along the lake’s western shore drags into the winter, the stranger our court proceedings get. Just two weeks ago, if I had gone before the judge, I’d surely be in the slammer.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Learning the Jails

I've never had much experience with jails. I was briefly introduced to a holding cell in Washington D.C.'s Anacostia police station in March of this year after refusing to move from the White House sidewalk while protesting the KXL Pipeline. I stood in there for ten minutes with five other female college students before I was processed and released.

However, I now find myself quickly becoming familiarized with the procedures and expectations of Schuyler, Chemung, and Yates County Jails as the We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign continues into December.

Friday, November 28, 2014

My First Vegan Thanksgiving

*The following was originally a letter to Sean, one of the amazing people on the Climate March who influenced me to become vegan. I realized after I finished the letter that it was great blog material. Enjoy!

Dear Sean,

Well, I did it. I survived my first family Thanksgiving as a vegan. Sometimes it was annoying. There were lots of head-smacking moments. But, overall, I found the experience to be rewarding.

Just for fun, I wanted to share the ridiculous moments with you. I think I'm going to keep an ongoing record of these. Some of them are just too good to be true.

1. (A few days before Thanksgiving)
Grandma: "I have no idea how to cook vegan!"
Neither do I. I've been using this thing called the world wide web to help. 

2. Grandpa: "Why did you go vegan? I don't understand."
Me: "I decided I didn't want to exploit animals anymore."
Grandpa: *shakes head and laughs* "People gotta eat, Faith."
That's funny. I haven't stopped eating. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Risky Business

"There it is," Doug announced as we pulled into the rail yard.

I wondered how many people drive by and mistake it for a snow drift. Some parts of the pile were even stained brown, much like how snow drifts get dirty as the winter goes on.

Large, fluffy flakes were falling from the pale grey sky. Although the snow wasn't sticking yet, the gravel that Doug's tires crunched over was already dusted in a layer of white. It was sand that coated the ground, much sharper and finer than the lovely puffs of water crystals descending from the heavens.

Doug pulled closer so I could take a picture. My phone clicked and the shutter closed, capturing the evidence.

"I can't believe it's just sitting out here in the open," I muttered. Doug pointed across the road.

"That's our city's premier family park. When the wind kicks up it blows over there."

As we fell silent again, I could feel the tension building. We were trespassing, after all. Our ruse of being lost tourists would only last so long. A freight truck had pulled into the rail yard ahead of us, and the driver must have noticed us by now.

It was now or never.