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I Drove Home

I drove home facing the sun again. All these years coming and going to work the Sun greets me each day and leads me home again.


Tonight, as I crossed the bridge over the Grand Neosho River, I was thinking of the conversations that arose during the opportunity I was given to join some folks on their front porch.


You can do a lot on a front porch, especially one that faces the morning sun. That’s the kind I grew up having. One where the whole of the city might easily find their way past, or not.


I can still see my parents sitting in the morning with coffee, and late at night waiting for us kids to make it home safely.


So, while walking a neighborhood to conduct Flood Surveys with the Champion Surveyor, Paul Marquez, we could hear one of my favorite country songs coming from the front porch we were approaching. I took it as an invitation to join them!


We started with a song. Music can make even a serious subject more tolerable, so when we had finished the only proper thing was to consider ending with a song, and the songs that came rushing into my head were the ones I had recently heard in The Picher Project. To not harm the validity of the creative trio who had written these songs, I began to rave about their talent and abilities to weave such a complicated story into lyrics and suddenly learned that Picher had been the home of one of the people I was sharing porch time!


On my way home, facing the sun, that is my time for considering the day and how it laid out, what came to pass, who I had encountered. After we have completed so many surveys, why would this one stand out so much? Reflecting on it later struck me. I guess it was how all of the issues we face stack up, each one serious, each one enough to mobilize masses, but with all of them and no real sense of urgency by federal and state officials, no real rush to DO or change our situations, has brought us all to accept them as ours. And as ours, all too large to do a single thing about, we go through our everyday lives and leave the stack of harms at the door, way down by the sidewalk.


What I am discovering by doing the

Flood Surveys, have been just how many

of these harms are shared by so many of you.


I was looking at the Atlas of Doom https://rebuildbydesign.org/atlas-of-disaster/ (my light weekend reading) and found Oklahoma to have the second highest number of disasters in the country over the years 2011-21, with flooding only part of our state’s struggles, another: lack of water: long-lasting drought and straight-line winds and tornados. Interesting, the Atlas also listed the number of hours of lost electricity per county.


Seeing those lost hours on their spreadsheet, took me back to the monthly Intertribal Council Meeting when the astonishing change in leadership in Dallas at EPA was discussed. The new administrator, Earthea Nance who has a long history as an environmental activist had been heard clearly identifying what we experience here as TOXIC floods, Chief Glenna Wallace concurred, stressing our floods are TOXIC.


There are many communities around the country that wake up to fresh air, have clean, clear streams running through their neighborhoods to enjoy, and do not live downstream of a superfund site. They may never know what you endure. They may never mobilize as environmental activists. But clearly our Tar Creek makes us the “Poster Child” for what can go wrong when mining comes for the widening list of essential elements.


This week LEAD Agency is doing our part in raising the next environmental activists as Moriah Bailey Stephenson ever so gently guides our youth campers into understanding issues we face and actions they can take even at their age to protect themselves and their environment.


I will drive home Friday evening knowing we have a cadre of youth who are prepared to take on the messes our generation and the ones who preceded us have left for them and they are up for it. They may even have a song for it.


Respectfully submitted ~ Rebecca Jim


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