Seeing is Believing

The US Map of Poisoned Parks and Playgrounds exposes 22,500 toxic sites where Monsanto’s Roundup and Glyphosate are sprayed in parks, playgrounds and public spaces. We aim to reveal 100,000 poisoned spots by December 2017. Check the map.

Over 13.42 billion pounds of Glyphosate have been sprayed on our planet in the past decade. Glyphosate use has risen exponentially since the introduction of genetically modified crops. Glyphosate is carcinogenic and toxic. Glyphosate is persistent in our blood, bodies, soil and water. It is in our breast milk and most organic foods. It is ubiquitous. Glyphosate has been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, birth defects, celiac disease, allergies and asthma.   

Help us make the map, help us go to Washington and talk the EPA into treating glyphosate like a toxic chemical, help us reduce and ban the use of glyphosate on our public spaces.

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Environmentalists: Make Your Stand Like Standing Rock

croppedarrest.jpegThe First Nations peoples in North Dakota are showing us the future of direct action. In the path of the Enbridge pipeline, the “black snake,” they’re making something that traditional environmentalists don’t have words for.  A friend of mine who is there put it this way:  “It’s not like a protest.  It’s a ceremony.”

There is a crucial lesson here that we environmentalists must learn.  At Standing Rock, the cops and courts, helicopters and drones and Dobermans - face their opposite: the pipe-line of pure life is pouring onto them from a hundred tribes.  It must be astonishing for Dakota Access advocates to come face to face with their anti-world.  

All the life that they would have killed over many years is anticipating events and concentrating here now.  All the antelope and burrowing owls and prairie rattlers and eagle feathers catching the wind with the dancers.  It’s all the beings of the Earth that aren’t oil!  Let’s watch Standing Rock long enough to make our stand.  We’ve got to keep this earthy pipeline of flowing over the drill’s puncture, the pipe-lines tunnel, the bomb train’s rails…  

After the power of what we have seen among the Squamish canoeists and kayaktavists and now of the Standing Rock Souix and their many guests - this is a good moment for us to return to these teachers, without anxiety that we’re headed back to the sixties.  Many of the American Indian Movement heroes were murdered by the feds.  But this time - if we stand by and don’t defend these first people; if all we do is watch, the way that white settlers stared from their front porches at the walking and dying on the Trail of Tears - then we won’t be able to save ourselves.  

And the First Nations people always tell us the same thing.  “The Earth is a living being.  The Earth communicates with us.”  This changes everything.  Our activism is completely turned inside out.  All questions of ego and courage are lifted from us.  We are acting now with the Earth flowing through us.  

A couple days ago I was in a police cruiser in hand-cuffs.  I had tried to crash an annual and immense Monsanto party, in which the chemical and seed companies lease the entire State Capitol and Supreme Court Building in Des Moines, Iowa.  State troopers  actually took the role of bouncers.  It was simply corporation as government.  Outrageous.  Orwellian.

I was standing there with my Occupy the World Food Prize friends, this their fifth year in opposing the soiree of the great poisoners.  Father Frank Cordaro was there, fresh from the southern pipeline tunneling under the Des Moines River, the one that is supposed to join the Standing Rock pipe somewhere in the Dakotas and complete the Black Snake.  The young men in uniform talked with us for their amusement and then arrested three of us quickly.  

The ground our little band held sacred was an earthy memory of pre-GMO Iowa.  My great grandparents from the Netherlands, William and Lena Talen were farming near here and the joke in the family is that they were such devout Calvinists that they were bad farmers.  The prayers got in the way of the plowing.  Now their great grandson is another over-mediated white guy looking for a ceremony.  I yearn for an endlessly complex Earth.  Don’t we all?  Don’t we have that in us somewhere?  Even these police?  Who wants the numbed mono-culture of toxic corporate farms?  

As the police cruiser took me toward the highway and the prison – the branches of great, old trees swept over the car.  The tires crunched acorns in the drive.  Arrest is a bad dream that I try to re-write as it happens.  Doubled over with my hand-cuffs, I forced myself to marvel at these trees above us.  I remembered a tree-fact:  when sunlight enters a leaf and photo-synthesizes into energy, this energy can flow instantaneously to any point in the tree, to the deepest tendril of its roots… the energy transfer takes no time.  Western science can’t explain this.  It is as if the trees defeat distance inside themselves.  Any energy in the tree can be everywhere in the tree at once.  And it pierces my incarceration.

As their grand gestures slide over the windshield, I promise myself that I will receive the interior of trees into my voice, somehow, the way that the plains is pouring toward the pipeline through the people who have loved that Earth.  

Yes!  We will be wise in the ways of the trees by the time Monsanto turns Iowa over to Bayer.  See you next year.

Photo by Nehemiah Luckett

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Safe, Free and Saddened

14681838_10153790230910974_1600979774952806654_n.jpgI'm out of jail now, with a Des Moines court case to look forward to. Much thanks to all of you and especially to the brave activists at the center of that toxic cornucopia of the world. You stand in lonely opposition to Monsanto's annual party, where the state capitol building is rented for the weekend by that bully corporation - unbelievable! - and the state troopers are hired as bouncers, literally, checking ID's and arresting citizens of conscience.

Oh Iowa! How tragic a land to live in - this Iowa that has rightly thought of itself as a blessing. The deep rich soil of Iowa has been sustaining so many of us for so long and then the glyphosates snuck up on us and now over-rule the complexity of loamy earth. No state in the union absorbs the saturating tons of Monsanto's RoundUp like Iowa. And so there is this big party in the middle of all this black earth that the party poisoned. And the state troopers guarding the corporate ritual of self-congratulation are all dressed the same, with the same gestures and expressions - the human reflection of the mono-culture of plant-life that this corporation stretches out to the horizon.

Iowa! This sad mono-culture of Iowa, the identical plants as far as the eye can see, are covered with the wrong kind of quiet. No songbirds or butterflys or wild bees... The wind blows and it is lifeless wind. We feel the sensation of extinction. Life knows when the life around it is cheated, and the activists of Iowa are witness to the passing of a very generous kind of life, the legendary growing season, the envy of the world!

A century ago my father's grandparents, William and Lena Talen, worked an Iowa farm. That was back before the word "organic" became necessary to defend the natural making of food against the laboratories of speculative capital.

I want to be with you Iowa activists as you revive your place. I share your vision that Iowa will be one great self-re-generating farm again, a place surging with life. Iowa remembers when its air and water and soil was thick with living beings, and that long memory has resurrection in it.

Photo by Sharon Donovan

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