There is something special about their excitement and their acceptance of this place into their lives. For over a year, this place has been their world apart from the New York City scene they lived. They have read every article, seen YouTube, searched obituaries, learned about the winning 1984 Gorilla team, no actually WATCHED the whole game!
During the week they are meeting as many people as they can to make sure our voices woven into this amazing story is told with the desired measure of truth and respect. And then put to... music. We ought to have more music in our lives, much of our lives are actually songs unsung... as yet.
Tune into their work on The Picher Project on Facebook, get excited, enjoy being discovered and know our story is being told when hundreds of other damaged places are still getting little respect, no let up of pollution pouring down their streams and rivers. Maybe this story will inspire a nation to wake up to the harm corporations: mining, manufacturing, even agriculture can cause to the environment, but also those who toil those who work their youth away only to leave their world too soon. Come listen to the Picher Project Saturday at 1:30 in Commons Hall at NEO, leave with a tune.
Their work is with us, but those folks in Colorado, Montana with orange colored streams and rivers know our voices are theirs. Perhaps they will be humming these tunes and standing a little taller knowing soon the nation might know just a bit more about mining, and industry devoid of consequences, what good regulations might do to protect our world, our water, our resources.
You got to know these young people are not alone in knowing there is some heart in these mined places: Mary Kathryn Nagle captured in her play Miss Lead, and the incredible work being done by Mary Sue Price on the trilogy she calls Chat Piles. What does this mean? Live your life like it matters, say what you think, no matter who hears you. Express yourself and want a better life, some justice, where ever you are, speak your truth and hey someone may quote you and pretty soon, your character is telling the world all about how to.
We truly do have art in this place and poet Maryann Hurtt found us, Jim Stricklan recently released a CD with a Tar Creek song in it and EPA's Bill Honker wrote "Made to Last" about a mining town.
There is a quote on my wall at home, "People need more than jobs and the economy, they also need art, they need spirituality and they need to touch wild, flowing water and they need it to run through their town," according to the Poudre Riverkeeper, Gary Wockner.
Last Saturday, I went to Tahlequah to honor an artist who has depicted historic Cherokee stories for decades. Murv Jacob had died a few weeks earlier and we gathered by the creek that runs through a park in the heart of the town he loved. And I thought, this is why Miami is where it is banked up by the Neosho River and why NEO A&M College is set beside Tar Creek, and why some of the historic homes in the town are situated nearby, too. Our creek was loved once. Get that? Loved. People gathered by it, told their stories, found time to wade in it, fish a little.
We have many ways for us to reflect about water. You can have too much water, as the states north of us have found out. Photos cannot describe the vast scale flooding has caused, it is still happening, changing lives and making difficult times unbearable. Farmers are telling their cattle and calves are lost, gone to water. Roads and whole counties shut off. During Calvin Coolidge's tenure the big flood came, sandbags failed, rescues were required but then and now how do you rescue herds? and make plowed ground work again?
We still have letters which need to be written expressing our comments on the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) and the Strategic Plan for Tar Creek with deadlines in April. But this Spring Break, hey, think about how we put place and water to song, give them the respect they need, and enjoy the enthusiasm artists of all sorts bring to our lives.
Next week with Spring Break over, join LEAD Agency on Wednesday down at the Oklahoma State Capitol Building in the first floor Rotunda for Lobby Day for Water. If you are out there catching a spoonbill, or a crappie, if you put your kayak into the water at Twin Bridges, if you had a full glass of water today, join us from 10 until 2 pm March 27 as we speak out for water! Water is life. She is needing our help, Water Protectors!
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim