Though Earth Day was April 22, Indianapolis celebrated Earth Day this past Saturday, with an event at White River State Park, held in the driving rain, under many large tents with tables for innumerable environmental non-profits and eco-friendly businesses, many of them focused on preserving or restoring the land, water, air, and native species of InDiana.
Young podmate Katarina dragged me out of Bloomington to go there, saying it would be good for me to sign up and volunteer at this event. So I did. Here we are, on the way up SR 37, now being ramrodded and widened into I69, starting, of course, with the felling of thousands of trees on either side of the road. Check out the cleared space on the right.
And of course, note the gloomy weather, which would only get more ominous as the afternoon wore on. Prior to this section of the road however, is a more open area. I told Katarina about this beautiful old sycamore tree in front of Worms Way that was somehow being saved from the clear-cutting, with a fence around it and a sign, “PRIVATE PROPERTY.” I had seen it on my way to Indy and beyond for Oakwood Retreat Center two weekends ago, and regretted that I hadn’t stopped to photograph it.
So, as we approached the tree, Katarina pulled the car over and stopped. I got out and tried to capture what had so held me spellbound, this tiny symbol of resistance to the powers that seek to ruin everything Nature stands for and is.
Yep, you can barely see that there is a sign there, in front of the tree’s trunk, with an orange fence. But the tree itself, one of the few not somehow mutilated by proximity to power lines, stands majestic and solo, mute witness to the degradations devouring InDiana.
Not much further on, and we started to see a weird sign, over and over again, near every water feature that intersected with the widening of the highway into the interstate, which usually meant, every little stream, on both sides of the divided road, probably 40 of them altogether in a stretch midway between Bloomington and Martinsville.
“NOTICE Waters of U.S.” Huh?
These were metal, just like highway signs, on steel posts, not amateur.
But what were they? Instantly our minds jumped to the idea that maybe they were the result of some kind of well planned, well funded, clandestine Earth First! type of organization, a subtle but blatant repeated way of calling attention to the fact that this water is actually the property of We the People, and not the steamrolling federal drive to pave and connect all sections of I69 from Mexico to Canada. The signs made us feel good, despite the strange wording.
But guess what! The next day, neighbor Melissa, who is a IU SPEA graduate student specializing in water studies, told us that these were EPA signs, signalling that the Environmental Protection Agency was overseeing the construction of this interstate, making sure the water features were being protected. Well, maybe so. Unless the EPA is somehow in on the deal and making it look like they were protecting the water.
In any case, politics and the ongoing ruination of Earth during a Celebration of Earth Day aside, here we are, Kat and I, out of the car now and standing on a bridge over Indy’s downtown canal, the 72-year-old and the 26-year-old, intergenerational pod mates in the Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage.
Which reminds me: this morning a reporter from the Indiana Daily Student interviewed Katarina, Rebecca and me for an upcoming story on the GANG and Green Acres in their newspaper. All three of us stressed the integenerational aspect of how we are living as vitally important and inspiring.
Though downtown Indy feels way to large-scale and engineered for my own small-town tastes, both of us were heartened to see this on our walk from the parking garage to the park:
And wow, the tents!
It turned out that there were so many volunteers that there was really nothing for us to do, so we were given teeshirts and snacks and released to visit the tents. Which we did, for three hours, talking with innumerable people who work with organizations that help us all in our attempts to reinvigorate a more sane, healthy life in concert with a healed Mother Earth. Indeed, so inspiring were many of their stories that I came away with a much deeper comprehension of the fullness and diversity of the community that is working here in the heartland for the common good.
The program for the event lists 100 exhibitors.
I’ll just speak here of one of them, Barbara Sha Cox, who runs the organization called Indiana CAFO watch. (CAFO = Confined Animal Feeding Operation). Here she is with her husband, who told me he had been a banker for 45 years until his wife, a farmer who had just discovered that a giant dairy farm was trying to locate right next to their farm, told him he had to quit and work with her. I don’t remember how long ago that was, I get the feeling a number of years — and they managed to prevent that CAFO dairy “farm” with its thousands of tortured cows and their intensely polluting effluvients. Check out their website. Lots going on. They widened their protection to not just their own property.
At one point Katarina and I dashed through what was by then driving rain to the smallish tent run by — what was it? The Indiana Forest Alliance? the Indiana Parks Alliance? the National Wildlife Federation? I have no idea. In any case, they were helping people make bird feeders. So we did that, taking turns.
I was thrilled to discover that there are a number of organizations working to head off the crazy plan to dam the White River (and inundate one-third of the precious Anderson Mounds), one of them even offering an alternative “Greenways” plan.
At the Sierra Club table one of the men started talking to me about somebody named Kevin, who he called the “soul of the White River.” He urged me to watch one of his youtube presentations, and to refer me to them, tried, and failed, to spell Kevin’s difficult last name. Said Kevin was a native to the area, and was deeply knowledgeable about the river and what is at stake.
The next morning, that is, yesterday morning, I got an email from Ted at Oakwood Retreat Center:
Since you have highlighted the mounds situation recently I thought you might like to see this. Kevin is a good friend of mine. We have been friends for nearly thirty years. He works at Spence Restoration Nursery here in Muncie as a “restoration ecologist”. This piece is a bit long but is well worthwhile. He truly embodies the soul of the White River. Kevin was taking this presentation on the road frequently a year ago.
Yep. Same Kevin. And the last name is TUNGESVICK.
With such eerie and precise synchronicity, how can I not watch this video?
But why? I ask myself. Why is this issue so compelling to me?
All I know is, now that I’ve stood in the middle of the Great Mound at the ancient, and immeasureably precious Anderson Mound Complex, I sense myself as having signed on as one of its many protectors.