I look at things as analogies: landscapes, objects, and stories I read as symbols of the human experience and who we are as people. I was recently struck at the landscape found on my families farm in Kansas and what I feel it says about us. I was also intrigued at the lack of reporting on the matter.
In Kansas I discovered a 80 to 100ft gouge across the landscape. Several of the roads I crossed had men monitoring equipment, clods of dirt kicking up in the wheel wells as I criss-crossed their areas of activity.
When my Uncle Richard showed me some of his land as well as his sons, there it was amidst the landscape: a large gouge of torn up topsoil and prairie grass meandering through the landscape. My uncle told me of 20 Kansas farmers that tried to protest this pipeline of oil that was being built from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico from going through their land. They lost in the name of the pipeline being an easement on their property. For a road or telephone wires o.k., but for a private business pumping oil, really? And it’s going down the center of the property. The farmers and ranchers were paid money to keep the cattle out of the area and build fences, they were paid money to let them come through, but could do absolutely nothing to keep the land they were tending to from being dug up.
While riding in his truck through one of the pastures they call North Stone my uncle commented “Do you feel what the tires just did? Wagon trains use to come through these parts avoiding Oklahoma because that is where the government had put all the Indians. You can still feel the trail on this prairie.”
If we can still feel those treads of settlers from years ago, the hundreds of years that it took to create those swaths of the prairie will never be the same really when they shove the soil back in the 100 ft wide ditch that was dug. In one area looking at the layers of soil I could see a consistent stack of flat flint-rock, and three colors of soils. I asked my uncle if they would put the soil back in that order. He chuckled and said “Not likely, they’re just going to dump it all in and get out of here.”
I know this is our fault. The over reliance on oil and our love of having our very own car, but I also wondered looking at the torn up land “Why haven’t I heard of this?” With all the problems in the gulf with the gusher in the water there, what could happen to the prairies? In 50 or 100 years what happens to the pipe and all the infrastructure when there is no more oil to tap?
Looking for articles I had troubles locating any, or reports in major news sources (like US News and world report, NPR, and USA today). I honestly pondered if this something we aren’t supposed to know about? Here are some various sites I found:
This is TransCanada’s video about it. Constantly looking at how folks use aesthetics to present something, note the nice folksy music that is playing while they show you images as well as the warm, deep assuring voice of the narrator. Interesting too that they talk about how they contribute to the community. The word I heard was that they got to move through Kansas largely tax free.
Here is a group in Nebraska against it:
Here is news to me that there is a pipeline coming our way in Oregon:
I did find some very interesting oil dependency inspired art here:
Ironically I found lots of articles on Sarah Palin and her relationship to oil in Alaska, and two brief notices on public hearings about the pipeline. Where is the news or commentary on all this? Please feel free to post some articles if you find them!
Back to making art here – what a world we live in….