Late October, 2014: Gasland and GANG (photo essay)

Actually, that’s Gasland 2 —

—as indicated by its trailer.

And here’s Josh Fox: producer, director, activist, writer, artist — all, at least to my mind, extraordinaire.

gasland 2

Josh was in town and agreed to both play his banjo and speak to a group that numbered around 60 at the U U Church, sponsored by its Green Sanctuary group.

First, we watched Gasland 2, a two-hour ordeal, really, excruciating, documenting the continuously shifting dynamic between the enormous increase in fracking sites (what did they say, 10,000 in the state of Pennsylvania alone?) and the grassroots movement that is rising up to oppose it.

Whereas the first Gasland movie focused on how fracking is impacting families, this film put the subject in a larger perspective, from corporate deception and the revolving doors between business and government, to we the people’s increasing recognition that yes, it’s true, our government is NOT here for us, but has in fact been captured by corporate interests that benefit very very few while poisoning and destroying people, communities, a way of life and — most critically — Mother Earth, her soil, water, and air. What used to look like conspiracy theory should, for those able to sit through the movie, open the eyes of even the most die-hard conservative, as it did many conservatives who are featured in the movie itself. In the end, as Josh says both personally and in the movie, it comes down to democracy, and even beyond that to climate change. Can we save our democracy, or is it too late? Will we educate ourselves as to how fracking releases not only chemicals into the water but methane into the air, thus increasing the effect of global warming? Will this burgeoning resistance movement actually reinvigorate our democracy?

Just today, I see a post confirming that yes, there IS a methane cloud the size of Delaware sitting right over the Four Corners area of the U.S., with fracking and other oil, gas, and coal operations below it.

NASA Confirms A 2,500-Square-Mile Cloud Of Methane Floating Over US Southwest

At the Q & A afterward, Josh’s communicated his vitality, determination, community spirit, creativity and vision with alacrity and humor. Clearly, he’s another one of his generation, Naomi Klein comes to mind here as well (Josh brought her book with him, and quoted from it), who is on it, who recognizes the climactic nature of the struggle we are all in, and who is personally, very up to the task of shifting the entire world, no matter how long it takes, or what the personal cost.

However, as he counseled, when speaking to the young ones from IU in the audience, to know your own part in this struggle, discover what you feel passionate about, and do that. It’s got to be fun for you, otherwise you’ll burn out. It turns out, filmmaking is fun for Josh, as is running around talking to all sorts of people, hauling his camera into regulatory hearings (or trying to, and getting arrested), and layering his documentary films with a fine mix of music, images, speeded up flashing time sequences and other ways to make a visually arresting and emotionally exhausting, and intellectually challenging two hours.

In response to one person from the audience who wondered if he ever despaired at the state of the world, and whether we really can turn the great engine of poisonous “progress” around before it’s too late, he confessed that he too, has his moments of despair. But that he’s just got to keep going anyhow, and do what’s fun for him. And to keep remembering just how much has changed in such a short time. For example, he said, the day that he came home to his homestead in rural Pennsylvania (on the border with New York state) and discovered the letter than told him fracking operations were going to move into his river valley, “was the loneliest day of my life.” That’s what got him going on this issue. And now, six years later, “there are millions of people” actively opposing this filthy industry.

In fact, his next film is going to be about the spirit of democracy that is bubbling up within resistance groups everywhere to fracking and other dirty energy behemoths, including coal and oil. And how this rising spirit of democracy is, and must become, an even larger presence in response to climate change.

Needless to say, I left the UU church satiated. Driving home alone, I felt connected to millions of others whose vitality, passion, skills, and life purpose are totally engaged as we each accept our own individual role in the rising spirit of democracy that is responding to climate change by initiating a transformation of the human way of life on planet Earth.

Me, I’m writing this blog and initiating the Green Acres Neighborhood Ecovillage, beginning with this two-home plus garden founding “pod” that I want to call “Milkweed Pod” but we podmates have yet to have a meeting to confirm that . . . Both projects, are indeed fun for me. The first meets my needs for continuous questing into infinity (double Sagittarius with Mars in that sign too), and the second for my need to ground myself into the Earth (Moon in Taurus). Together, they inhabit the spirit of adventure and experimentation to which I have dedicated my life ever since I was 26 years old. I’m nearly 72 now, that’s only four years away from 50 years!

So. Now let’s segue to yesterday, Sunday, late afternoon, when I participated in our GANG work party. Everybody else came at 5 p.m., but Rebecca and I started at 4 p.m. by going to drag the downed wood from a yard a few houses away that had both of us salivating separately all week. Why salivating? Because we use old wood to make hugelkultur beds, and the more wood the better! So we had to laugh when we realized that we’d both had the same thought, and so, yes, that’s how we began, by going to haul that wood back here.

wood haul

I made about five trips down the street, and she made three. Now it sits in my front yard in front of the latest hugelkultur bed until someone has the gumption to get it to the back, in the wood supply corner that we’ve designated for next spring’s projects.

wood in front yard

Before we took the wood, I knocked on the door of the house the yard belongs to. Told the tenant, an IU student, what we wanted to do. She was glad because her landlord had been ignoring her calls. So I invited her to our Potluck and Scary Stories with back yard fire next Sunday night, and got her email address, so we can put her on our neighborhood list to receive such invitations.

That’s the thing about a university town. We live in a sea of rental properties, with students coming and going through the years. Us ecovillagers continually introduce ourselves and our transformed way of life to them. This neighborhood is becoming an educational center in its own right.

Which brings me to the next photo, of a group of current permaculture design students who have decided to use our project for the practicum in their design course. Which is perfect, since nine years ago, when I took the design course, it was the teacher’s suggestion that we do a permaculture design for our neighborhood that got me into this latest experiment. So, as I told the five who wanted to come yesterday and happened to show up while we were working in the garden, “It’s all Peter’s fault.” Peter Bane, that is, one of their teachers. We had a good laugh.

Here they are, with Rebecca.

PC design class

Meanwhile, others were hard at work getting out all the old carpet from the paths between the beds. We put it in to keep the weeds down, which works for about one year. Then the weeds start to root underneath the carpet, and especially, at the edges of the carpet, so are very hard to uproot. After six years, we decided to take the old carpet out, first placing all the now composted wood chips that had covered them on the garden beds, then digging even further to get a new layer of soil for the beds, and only then covering the naked path with new wood chips. A huge project. Terraforming, you might call it. Here’s a photo of some of the carpet rolls (we have 20 to 25 rolls to haul away).


Here’s a new, low hugelkultur bed (we didn’t have giant logs, just sticks of various widths and wood chips) that includes the African idea of composting in place with a hole down the center (in this case, two holes, since it’s a long bed). The shape of this bed was dictated by the giant gooseberry bush that never did produce any fruit but just kept getting bigger. We’re transplanting part of it elsewhere and hope to figure out what it needs to produce.

While everybody else was doing the heavy work, including removing the bamboo tipi poles that supported the two-foot beans —


— we’ll replace the poles next year; they get brittle after about a year —

Rebekka, who has a sprained ankle, worked while seated, to harvest seeds, first chives (here) and next those from the two-foot beans taken down with the poles.

Rebekka seeds

At the end of my stint in the garden, Keith (of the Permaculture Activist, he was the workshop leader who started this garden, and is one of the teachers for this new Permaculture Design group) called me over. Said he had something to show me. Oh!


A monarch caterpiller! Oh, so this is a milkweed plant? (Monarchs feeds exclusively on milkweed plants.) I ask him, having wondered what it was all summer. I am more familiar with another variety of milkwood that grows in my front yard, and Keith said that there are many varieties of milkwood! Well, well! I learn something every day! Plus, it feels like a wonderful omen, that we should have a monarch caterpiller with us on the day when what I call our Milkweed Pod was out in force with friends to help do remaining garden tasks prior to winter.

Yes, Josh, a fun afternoon.

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0 Responses to Late October, 2014: Gasland and GANG (photo essay)

  1. laurabruno says:

    Yes, I believe that is known as a “tropical” milkweed variety. That’s what I have growing here. I’m not sure if it will sprout on its own next year, but I let some of the pods explode, so I guess we’ll see. 🙂 It looks pretty with nasturtiums at the base. Great projects you have going!

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