Updated: Mar 28
I don’t get invited to many parties.
The best thing that ever happened to me was being a ROPES course instructor. Why? The games. And the true joy I learned to have by playing. Play allowed us to take our guards down and in that way learn to trust. And with trust, with the people you had just laughed and run and held hands, suddenly incredible things could happen. A group of people who had learned to trust one another would trust and take care of the lives of their members.
I remember the first time I went to a ROPES course, I went with my guard up, my defenses ready, and during the first game of tusker, suddenly all the rules were gone. I no longer wanted to run away from the monster, I wanted to be part of it. I was hooked. And from that time on, all I have ever wanted was to link on and have others become one of a larger thing. And in that way, find the answers, find each other and somehow create and be in joy with others.
So when the big switchover happened for me, when all the lights came on and the reality of the place where I worked and where all the people I knew and enjoyed and cared for were in the heart of a monster and were part of it and their lives dominated by it, my defenses came back up. Several of us formed LEAD Agency and began to sound the alarms. Somethings in our environment are harmful. Because so many of our friends and neighbors are sick, so many children were experiencing learning issues with ADD and ADHD. Back then we didn’t know what your children were suffering with, I had been working in the Miami Schools over 15 years before we learned it was lead poisoning. I had sat in so many IEP meetings, and talked teachers, convinced parents to seek help through special education because it was obvious to me these children needed help in school and it was clearly not their fault. They wanted to learn but COULD NOT.
As more came out about the stuff that was harming children it turns out it could also harm them as adults, as for lead, it can harm every organ in the body. Then there were the other elements in our chat, the mine waste our parents even brought home to put under our swing sets, that it could impact many more of your parts. The kitchen sink of them: cadmium, arsenic, and manganese. It didn’t take long to read up the Toxicological profiles from ATSDR to find out, playing in our kind of sand could give life-harming consequences.
I am asking you to grab my hand again, just like we did at the ROPES course, just like your parents did as we sat down in those IEP meetings.
I am asking you to get real with what you are surrounded by, and perhaps living each day breathing. We have been harmed by the environment and then we are threatened by flooding. Maybe not your house, maybe the last floods came close, but your neighbors, the businesses you frequent can flood. But you suffer too, re-routing your life, using time to get past the water when the town is surrounded. When the waters recede, the residue will be toxic, loaded with bacteria and for many spaces, homes and yards, heavy metals that came down from Tar Creek.
Grab on and let’s become one again, feel the power of being part of the thing that can win. What are we doing? We are fighting a monster bigger than us. We are fighting power. It is then funny to know the only entity that can save us is the one designed to regulate power: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. We have to ask FERC to care about us and regulate the way GRDA operates the way they generate power.
I think we join another agency into the fight. We need the only federal agency with PROTECTION as a middle name in on this too. EPA needs to understand the lake, our precious Grand has been on the receiving end of our toxic Tar Creek’s load since that lake was born, and the load exploded in 1979 when all those heavy metals washed down her and will continue for another 100 years. That’s why there is a fish advisory for Lead in Grand Lake, the Neosho and the Spring, from the other superfund sites in Kansas and Missouri all pouring lead that way.
We need power of FERC and the protection from EPA to grab hold and lend us a hand. They will both hear this plea if you join the chorus. Keep writing your FLOOD stories, keep sending them to FERC, consider coming by our office and getting more POSTCARDS. And let’s remember to make that R in FERC into a heart. Valentine’s Day is coming and we need FERC to have a heart… for us.
Let’s get this party going!
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim