Sunday, February 28, 2010

you're killing me, ohio

literally. I love ohio. It's a part of me. I feel a real connection to this place, particularly these foothills.

Which is why, perhaps, it hurts so badly to know what Ohio has on it's plate. Ohio is dirty, and getting ready to be dirtier.

Energy- how much we produce and how we do that is what I'm talking about. While there are (sadly) probably more on the table, here's what I have caught wind of for what is has barreling down on Ohio. This is not what I know, but what I hear. Some of this is yet to be seen, just heard from people keeping their ears to the ground. Other things are well underway. And even more things are missing from this list completely.

Starting closest to me and moving clockwise around the state:

Meigs County
(Purple dot): a potential expansion of carbon sequestration into Ohio from WV. This is particuarly bad news as it is creating new coal infrastructure and would likely pave the way for 'clean coal' plants to pop up in Meigs County.

Meigs County (Pink dot): the AMP coal plant has been stopped. But, plans to create energy at that site are still in the works, potentially has biomass or natural gas.

Middletown (green): a coke plant is there, with permits and all. Coke is a form of energy from coal, that is used to create steal. From my limited understanding of it, coke is particularly destructive and has a very high level of public health threat. Luckily, there seems to be local community resistance to the project that has been organizing against the plant.

Clyde (light blue dot): this one seems largely based in hear say, but from the sounds of it, there is a incinerator on its way for the Clyde.

Cleveland (yellow dot): another garbage incinerator, also based largely on what has been heard. The proposal is apparently a pyrolysis incinerator- a type of gasification. It's location inside of Cleveland increased the immediate threat is poses, as more people breath the air in an urban environment- but it's location also makes it accessible to organize against.

Alliance (green dot): another incinerator, with permits. There seems to be little local resistance. I don't really know too much about it.

Wellsville (blue dot): There are well established works for a coal-to-liquid plant there. I don't know much of what that means, bu apparently it is more harmful than a 'regular' coal plant, and the liquid energy goes to things like military jets (increasing the harmful effects no doubt). There seems to be little resistance from the community, and possibly even support, but the funding for the plant may not be there.

Belmont County
(red dot): this one was sort of intentionally saved for last. This isn't exactly a dirty energy source, but a dirty energy result. A slurry impound to be precise. This is one I just heard about late last night, but want to give a little more information about what it is- from my current understanding.

The backstory: Murray Energy (Bob Murray) owns 60% of Ohio's coal production. Murray energy currently has a slurry impoundment near this proposed one, but come mid 2011, it will be full. This becomes problematic for Murray Energy, as they need a way to store all the nasty, toxic, dirty waste from cleaning our coal. These imprisonments contains heavy metals, like mercury and arsenic, which have a way of destroying water sheds. Of particular note is the clean, 'pristine' stream- casey run- is planned to be diverted (being a water source for people, and for an endangered species of salamander). In 2004, Murray Energy applied for a new impoundment and the EPA denied it, but basically formed a committee to find alternatives. From my understanding, this committee was highly political. Several alternatives were suggested, but Murray Energy said they were not economically feasible- with the exception of their original plan.

Currently, another (slightly tweaked) proposal for the impoundment is up. As I understand it, the Ohio EPA sees approving this permit to be outside the law, but they are up against significant political (financial) weight to approve it. If it gets rejected, Murray Energy has apparently said 12,000 miners will loose jobs in the area. It seems this is likely to be true. Which, is what makes this a hard and complicated issue.

There is a hearing scheduled for Tuesday March 30 in Clairsville. It seems it will be a very heated hearing, where both sides are likely to make a showing- and will likely see this issue as a concern of survival.

Here is the Sierra Clubs site with information about it.

I want to fight for Ohio. I want to fight for my right, for my nephews right, to be able to live here and to be healthy while doing so.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

when all elese fails...

mtr work
travel/see country
constant adventure
meet new people often
healthy home/community
very close relationship with a few people
draw attention nationally
less resistance/welcomed
now or never
maybe non profti, maybe americorp

hard to see direct results
very far from family
lack of sense of place
develop less meaningful relationships
time in car
(maybe) no debt payment/non profit status

mtr work
direct connection to land, people, effect
non profit status/debt payment
close(er) to family
steady home
already have relationships
develop new/strong relationships
ability to work (for money) when need be in ohio
community connection

cowboy culture/in house dynamics
mental health/safe space questionable
need for long term commitment (community)
unaddressed privilege
unconnected person/social choices
environment health- air, water
emotionally challenging/outsider/unwelcome by many

close to home
know the ropes
feel connected to place/not fleeing
meaningful work/fulfillment
paid (actual money!)
nonprofit status/debt payment
fulfill a very real need
able to garden/build a home
connect to community other than 'work'
build on established relationships
meet new people

stay in ohio
student organizing/same/no break
stagnation (leads to settling down!)
start debt repayment--> continue debt repayment
need reliable car
housing/food cost

i think what it comes down to is now or never. yikes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

as long as it keeps going 'round its unbelievable

for the past few weeks i've been in a funk. Like, where nothing seems really great. I guess nothing seemed really awful either though. I think the best way I can describe it is by thinking about last weekend. There was a burlesque show that I had wanted to go to and was really looking forward to. But come Friday night, I didn't really want to go. I really wanted to want to go. But, I just couldn't make myself want to be there. So, I didn't go.

That's just how I was feeling. Not sad, but not happy. I'm someone who is filled with emotions- granted the lows can be pretty low- but man oh man do the highs make up for it. And the highs are so much more common than the lows. But for a couple weeks, I wasn't able to really feel much of anything. I knew I felt numb but didn't know how to stop and start feeling again.

I tried everything I could think of. I cooked and baked like a maniac. I cleaned. I planned. I read. I went outside. I rode my bike around. I worked out. I ate great food. I slept. And I just couldn't really pull myself into caring.

And I don't know what pulled me out of it, but either way, I realized today I am out. No more funk. I'm ready to go. Yesterday, I made an hour by hour to-do list and I only didn't accomplish the reading of one article (which means, I read 3 chapters of a book, found 4 articles, read 1 article, wrote a summary, decorated a cake, made dinner, cleaned my room, was on the osec call, and went for a morning hike!)
And today, I made a lengthy to-do list for the week. Motiation: If I get my shit done I can really enjoy hanging out with my nephews on our vacation in two weeks!
This week to Do:
- finish Pop Geog article summaries (3 to go)
- finish Bridge at the End of the World
- finish Bios Web project
- write outline for paper on place (and read all articles in order to do that)
- research 2 grant opportunities for OSEC

and work 15 hours, go to school, and go to the osec retreat at least one day (and make dinner 3 times, and one outdoor activity)

I can totally do it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

fat, sugar, and love

A little over a year ago, I met a wonderful man in WV. He had just recently hiked the AT, and seeming as I had a desire to do that myself, I couldn't help but ask 20 questions.

'Did you do anything to train yourself before going out'
'No, not really. I starting eating a lot of butter on my bagels so I could fatten up. I was up to 1/2 stick.'

I couldn't help but think to myself, there are so much more delicious ways to fatten up. So as I was walking through Pittsburgh, I had the sudden and extreme desire to make a triple layered white cake with fluffy pink frosting. I really don't know what spurred that desire, but I knew it wouldn't go away until I did it. So after a solid Bread and Butter making party with some beautiful friends on Saturday afternoon (a solid 4 hours in the kitchen), I came home and decided to spend a few more hours in my own kitchen. And as I set out to make a 3 layer cake, with whipped cream frosting, and I knew that this was in fact a much better way to fatten up.

The cake recipe itself from joyofbaking. com, but I'm going to put it here anyway. The recipe says it is for cupcakes, so I doubled it (which, in retrospect I didn't really need to, one batch would have easily make three thin layers). The cake is fairly dense (as most from scratch cakes seem to be in my experience) and was pretty labor intensive, but I think it turned out well and is worth passing on.

1 3/4 cups (175 grams) sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (I used white vinegar as a replacement)


Separate eggs while they are cold and save both parts in different bowls. Let sit our for about 30 min so they warm. There are a few ways to seperate eggs, but I think the easiest (and certainly most fun) is to crack the egg onto your hand and let the whites drain out, then plop the yolk into another bowl.

Then mix flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Sift. (sifting is important in cakes, but I never do it for other baked goods).

In another bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar and butter (I used homemade butter, from Snowville Creamery Whipping Cream, which made it a) sustainable b) delicious c) extra labor rewarding and d) easy to get super fluffy since the butter was very soft) until its fluffy. Beat in yolks, one at a time. Add vanilla.

Then add in flour mixture, about a third at a time, alternating flour and milk. As this point, it will be very cookie dough like. Don't freak out, it's fine.

Now to the egg whites. Whisk them until they get foamy. Then add vinegar (or cream of tarter, which could result in a less dense cake? maybe? I don't really know what cream of tarter does- nor what it is) and whisk the eggs and vinegar until the foam is able to form soft peaks. Add the rest of the sugar, and bear again until stiff peaks form. Fold this into the cake batter (the recipe emphasizes folding it in, and not over mixing it).

In greased pans, fill the pans about 1/2 way with batter and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 min (maybe set it for 20 and check it) until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let each layer cool, completely. Seriously. Let them cool. (I actually made the cake Sat night, and the frosting Sunday, partially because I was running out of kitchen steam but also I know myself well enough to know I ALWAYS try to frost cakes before they cool.)

So then came the icing, which as far as visuals, is really the reason for making the cake. I decided to run with my hunch from the last cake I baked of using whipping cream and powdered sugar. The results, I must say, is delicious. I don't know the proportions I used, put basically just use a heavy whipping cream and as much powdered sugar as you like sweet, and whip it (whip it good). Don't over whip it, or you could end up with butter. Just until it peaks. The corn starch in the powdered sugar makes it more solid than just whipped cream.

Like I sort of implied, this is probably one of the more calorie intensive cakes I can think of. Full of fat and sugar, but all the ingredients are good ones. Nothing crazy in it, and a cake like this, it takes lots of love to make.

So now, it sits in the fridge, waiting for my favorite part of cooking, for people I love to eat it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I am my mothers daughter

My mother is a pretty amazing woman. If I ever am half as amazing as her, it will be a good day. Recently, a few examples of why she is so wonderful has surfaced.

1) Haiti
Last time I saw her, she was saying she wants to take a class in wilderness first responder. Why? So this summer, after the red cross and all other major relief teams check out of Haiti and we continue and economic policy that has put them in such a burdened social space, my mother hopes to go there and help. To go into the small villages, the rural areas where the Red Cross didn't touch and help people any way she can. People to people.

2) Pittsburgh
So, tomorrow, I head to Pittsburgh for my 3rd time, for my pre-trial. My mother has told me if no friends were able to accompany me, she would. But, her mother has been sick and she's had to take a lot of work off and can't go. So she suggests my brother goes with me.

Me: Wait, you mean Colin who without irony has an American flag hanging in his
living room?
Mom: Yes...
Me: To go with his little sister to court for protesting the G20?
Mom: hha... uhh... yeah.

After calling every other family member to see if someone could go with me (to no real avail), I (re)told her it really isn't a big deal. Just a meeting.

Mom: But someone should be there to support you.
Me: Yeah, I know you all support me. And this isn't even the trial.
Mom: But what if they do something crazy, like try to put you in prison for 7 years, someone should be there to stand up for you.
Me: ha, mom, I'm not going to prison, especially not on Friday. Worse case is a huge fine, and that won't happen until the real trial.
Mom: Ok. I feel guilty.
Me: Mom! You don't need to feel guilty, really, it's fine.
Mom: Ok, but I'll go to the trial. And I'll wear a shirt that says something.
Me: Ha, ok.
Mom: Like 'Leave my baby alone, you big meanie heads'
Me: Yeah, I think that will get the message across.

And then there are all the times, when I was growing up, that she subtly encouraged me to think. To actually think. Like when some kids at my school were wearing pro-life shirts (for pro-life day) and I told her that. She just asked, what do you think about that? Why? I didn't have an answer then, but I remember spending lots of time after that thinking about it.

Or when I was telling her that after a kick boxing class I saw some people doing jiu-jitsu, and it looked really cool. Do I want to try? Well, they're all men. So? Yeah I guess it doesn't matter. I can do that.

(my mother and I, circa summer 1987)

If I'm lucky, I'll be something like my mom.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

strange day, strange life, strange world

so, it's been a strange day. I guess partially because I didn't sleep enough, partially because I had to take an exam I had no interest in, partially because I felt useless at a meeting, but really I think it was just one of those days that everything seems to sort of... float.

I don't know how else to describe it. I'm doing it, but I feel really disconnected. From everything- and everyone. Anytime I spoke to someone today, I felt strange. Not like they weren't listening really, more like I wasn't saying anything.

Then I had a conversation with a lovely woman who works for the beehive collective. She was great, but I just felt... strange. I don't think the conversation went that well (in the direction of me working with them) but I'm not ever sure if I can judge that.

My fall backs for when shit gets wacky- failed today. I cleaned my kitchen. Nothing. I made dinner. Nothing. I made a snack (kale chips!) and I made applesauce. Nothing. nothing. nothing.

yikes. strange day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

dropping out

I keep finding myself in the same dilemma.

It started with sds. good, old, trusty sds. a staple in my life for a couple years. i give credit to sds for my radicalization, for my found passion, for my involvement, for my friends, for a sense of belonging and community, and for my general growth. sds pushed me to think about things i never spent much time thinking about. sds made me believe (and then disbelieve) in a revolution. sds taught me to put my faith in people, in each other. without sds, i very seriously doubt my ability to critically think and question the socialization i've been developed in. sds was great. i met new people with new ideas, i got angry, i pumped my fist in the air and yelled at the bourgeois for not taking to the streets, for telling their children to step in line, for working 9 to 5's, for shopping at walmart. i went to workshops, i learned strategy, i participated in difficult conversations about race, about privilege.

but after a while, i got tired of yelling. i got tired of pumping my fist and talking about a revolution inside a classroom, followed by commercial music and cheap beer. i wanted more. i wanted to do something, to effect something. i wanted my new found ideals to be put into action. real action. not a action, but to turn my ideals into something concrete, something tangible.

i stuck with it. i went to the meetings and talked strategy. how to best achieve something, what experiences i had to share. i tried to delve into what our purpose was, who we are, what we want, and maybe most importantly- how we are going to get it. but, when athens sds chose the campaign for winter quarter to be to 'end the war' i felt like i failed.

the strength of an organization should not rely on any one person. likewise, no one person should feel their identity- their success- is that of an organization.

sds was no longer what i needed for personal fulfillment. granted, no organization will ever provide fulfillment, but if it doesn't add to it, then maybe it's not for me (anymore). and after a certain point of trying, i had to realize sds was not able or willing to transform itself into what i needed. but the trick to it is, i still think sds is important. i still believe in the organization, in the purpose. without sds, i would not be who i am today. i want other people, other big eyed and open eared students at ou to have sds around. it was so important to me, i wanted it to continue. to be there for the next person, to guide someone else into their own being.

when i decided to stop going to sds, i knew it might be to the detriment of athens sds. i was hoping that was not the case, that it would live on. so far, it's future is up in the air, but it's not looking good. that makes me really sad.

leaving sds was a good choice i think. but, as i grow frustrated with other organizations, i keep asking myself- at what point do the meetings, the discussions, the grand plans, become road blocks to my ability to do things. i think a big part of it has to do with student organizing. i feel increasingly frustrated and disempowered by student organizing- across campus, across the state, across the country. maybe it's because i'm moving on, i am realizing within a few months, i won't be a student. maybe student organizing is based on a population i often don't relate that well to, feel frustrated with, yet self associate with. but maybe it's not me, maybe there are very serious problems within the 'movement' that should be addressed. and if all the people who see these problems choose to leave- because they are frustrated, tired, disempowered- will they ever get addressed or will they continue to fester?

i wonder- how long do i stick it out before i drop out?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Michigan or bust

It's raining. It's been raining all morning, from when I woke up to now, and I don't see it stopping. Everywhere else in Ohio, it's snowing. No, not in Athens. Rain. Figures.

I had this plan, a grand adventure. An old friend from high school and I were going to head to Michigan. Why Michigan? Well, it touches Ohio and I've never been there. That seems a little nuts. So when my friend who I have not really seen or even spoken to in oh- 4 years- suggested an adventure this winter- I couldn't resist.

Yes please, Michigan please.

I was supposed to leave today. Head to Columbus and meet him and then on to Michigan. What were we going to do there? I don't know. Have fun mostly (hopefully). But mother nature has a way of changing plans, she runs on her own schedule and doesn't stop for anyone. So even though this rain is still rain, it's supposed to turn to hail, to snow. It is snow everywhere else. And, as my friend advised, and as my mother advised, and as my co-worker advised- the trip is no more.

In all honesty, I was pretty bummed. This was going to be 1) fun 2) an adventure and 3) a non political out of state trip. I was going to catch up with an old friend, in the best way possible- trapped in a car for many hours. I was going to see something new. Cross another border. But now, I'm stuck in Athens. That's what I thought to myself, great. Athens.

Wait! What the hell am I talking about? Great! Athens! I love athens, i love the people here. This place and these people that within a few months, will no longer be where I sleep at night? And I'm feeling bitter for getting 'stuck' here for a weekend?

So, let's rethink this. No, I'm not going to Michigan. No I'm not catching up with a friend. Yes, those two things are downers. But! I can...

- go hiking in the snow! maybe even backpacking for a short while!
- hang out with friends- lovely and amazing friends!
- go to the farmers market!
- bake bread!
- go see great music around town!
- go see the vagina monologues- for my first time!
- pump out some school work as to assure my ability to go on a non political out of state trip with my kick ass nephews (and sister, and brother in law)!
- read from a book I want to read!
- sleep and avoid getting sick (which- I fear I am on the verge of)!

I can enjoy the moment!!!!! Woo!
Athens! Love! Friends! Winter!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bikes, Community, and Racism

So in the past two days, I've had interesting interaction involving my bike.

The first one is a really positive one- so I'll start there. The past few weeks, after leaving it outside for a very raining weekend without riding it, my bike has been acting funny. It started by being kind of clinky and then the gears would jump. So a lovely friend of mine offered to help me grease up the chains to see if that would help. It was super cold the night we did it, and since our hands were frozen we only did a little, but it helped. Then a few days later, my grand roommate came inside and said he and his dad oiled it more for me. I guess that happened a week ago or so- but it was really nice of them. Then Saturday night I was telling Bobb how it wasn't even shifting gears at all anymore or if it did it would really jerk me forward in the process. So, he looked at it and found I had a broken link in my chain. I almost freaked out because without a bike I am screwed for transportation. But, it was still ride-able and I had likely been riding it like that for a couple days. And he filled up my tires- which were really low.

Bobb also said I should just go to the bike co-op tomorrow, since he didn't have the tools to take the link out. I had planned on really getting some school work done that day, but went anyway. I had never actually been there before- which seems really crazy because I love that Athens has such a great bike co-op. But anyway, I headed across town the next afternoon (sunday) and found the co-op- and of course- Erik was there to help. He rocked, he showed me how to do it, and then I changed the links (several times, because we forgot to put it in the railer thing and then I broke a few links- so I got lots of practice). The bike co-op was pretty sweet, with TONS of bikes around, and boxes of parts all over the place. It was awesome. And I brought Erik a piece of the spicy chocolate cake I made the other day to thank him for his help. (Giving food I make to people is probably one of my favorite things to do- ever.)

So that was a really great experience. So many people helped me- which feels really wonderful to know I am involved in such a great community, I discovered the bike co-op and its wonderfulness, and I learned how to fix my bike chain. Win!

But then today- as I was riding up town to be at work to send an email about earth month funding things- at 8 in the morning (not my ideal) in the really cold air- I had a really bad experience. Normally, when I ride down Richland Ave I don't exactly receive smiles and friendly waves, but today- was the worst I've ever experienced riding a bike. A car that ended up behind me honked several times and then speed around me. Naturally, we were both stopped at the next light. The woman in the passenger seat stuck her head out of the car and started yelling something. I couldn't hear what, because there was a big truck next to me- but she looked really angry. Then the driver opened the door- and I think my heart stopped. I thought this person was going to get out- and try to fight me or something. Luckily, they didn't. Maybe there was just something stuck in the door or maybe they decided better of it- but either way, the door shut pretty much right after it opened. My heart didn't start returning to a normal speed until the light changed and the car pulled away.

But, see, it's more complicated than just a bad experience with a driver on the road. That I could handle. Sure, it would upset me and I would be a little bitter- but the thing is... the woman was black. And as her head was sticking out the window yelling, all these negative stereotypes came raging into my head. I didn't want them there, but there they were. Making me fearful of the person in that car, more fearful than I would have if they were white. If they looked like me. Then, when the car door opened, I thought to myself there was probably a black man, getting ready to step out of his car and start a fight (the assumption of the driver being a man is also concerning- but one thing at a time). How could I feel that way? What the hell is wrong with me, that because the passenger of that car was black, I was more afraid.

So all day I've been thinking about it. And the thing is, I've just never really been in environments that were very racially diverse. That within itself is something that maybe I should spend some time examining, but that's currently a fact of my life. I live in a monoculture- a white, middle class monoculture. So most experiences I have with people of other ethnic backgrounds are not from actual experience. I've read some books, been to workshops, and had discussions about race. I thought I got it. I thought that overall, I had broken down those stereotypes- those negative portrayals of black people as bad. Those images come at us all the time, be it from the news, movies, tv, or music- they are out there. Unfair depictions of people. I guess no one is accurately depicted in mainstream (any?) media, but the combination of extreme bias with regards to race in the media (and in the general public I guess) and my lack of experience to counter act those messages- they effected me.

I'm not bringing this up because it's easy- or because I want to admit to being racist. But- when that woman was yelling at me- I didn't see her as a person- I saw her as a black woman. And all my misinformed, racist, reinforced, deeply suppressed opinions of what that means- came out inside my head.

I guess, my ability to see that happening is a good thing. I can't really work towards a more just future if I hold onto racist notions without confronting them and challenging them. I guess I'm not really sure how I can work to break down racism- within myself or in a larger context- but it seems like I need to do some exploring to make sure I really address this.

Looks like I have some serious work to do.