Sunday, February 15, 2015

Welcome! I'm glad you're here!

Hi, I'm Britta! 

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, at the age of 30.  It was a huge shock, because I was so young, had no family history of the disease, and was very healthy.  How could I possibly have cancer?  I'd been flying on the trapeze for years, having no idea that there was a cancerous tumor inside of me!  It was crazy.  But it really happened, and can happen to anyone.  It turned my world upside down.  There was, of course, a lot of pain and misery.  But overall, my post-cancer life is so much happier than my pre-cancer life... and had I not gone through cancer treatments, I would not have met my partner, the absolute love of my life.  Isn't life strange?!

This post always stays at the top, but the other posts are in reverse chronological order.  This blog started as a place to keep my family and friends updated with the latest news about my boob and its saga, and to share my story in hopes that it would be of help to other women facing breast cancer, or their loved ones.  

Over time, as I finished and healed from treatments and was able to broaden my focus, I began to learn about became obsessed with learning about the environmental links to cancer.  I became an environmental activist, and this blog is expanded WAAAAY beyond my boob now.  It's more about how my boob is connected with the rest of my body, and how my body is connected with the bodies of all women everywhere, and how all of our bodies are connected to the Earth.  Our bodies are a part of the Earth's body and thus cannot be separated or understood in isolation.




Sunday, May 25, 2014

My Rachel Carson Story

[This is a story I wrote a few months ago as a submission for a story contest that was never actually followed through with... so I'm posting it here, in honor of what would have been Rachel Carson's 107th birthday.  Enjoy!]


The story of how I came to the Newagen Inn, in Southport, Maine, begins with the story of how the worst experience of my life miraculously led to the best one. One absurdly bright and sunny Monday morning, two months before my 31st birthday, I was blindsided by a breast cancer diagnosis. Since writing is as necessary and as automatic to me as breathing, I wrote extensively online about my breast cancer journey. I had turned to the Internet for information and solace, but what I miraculously found was the love of my life.

One day towards the end of my daily radiation treatments, I received an email from a woman who had read some of my writing, noted that she and I had seen the same doctor (she for non-cancer reasons), and thus “just wanted to say hi.” I briefly wrote back, and somehow that was the beginning of a daily email exchange that would go on for months, as Allie and I discovered that we had much more in common beyond just sharing a doctor. Through those hundreds of emails, a friendship was formed, and surprisingly, that friendship turned to love. She truly was my sunshine in the darkness. We began dating six months after meeting, and now, we are engaged to be married!

Like everyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, I ask why. I’ll never really know, but learning that my childhood home had a breast cancer rate 20% higher than the rest of the state’s piqued my interest in the environmental links to cancer. I began reading all I could find. Of course, one cannot delve too deeply into the topic without hearing the name Rachel Carson, who wrote about the environment and cancer and also died of breast cancer herself.

I had almost all of Rachel's books on my shelves when Allie gave me Always, Rachel as a Valentine’s Day gift.  It is a collection of letters exchanged by Rachel and Dorothy Freeman, who met as summer neighbors in Southport, Maine, where Rachel did much of her writing and studied the shore.  She wrote of her love for Dorothy; her family and cats; and the natural world, especially in Southport – the songbirds, tide pools, mosses, forests, stars, and sea creatures. Deeply moved by the letters, I began reading them out loud to Allie in bed at night. It felt remarkable how much of Rachel and Dorothy’s thoughts and emotions – about their bond, and the beauty of the natural world – she and I could relate to.

As enthralled as I was with the book, I left the last 30 or so pages unread. I couldn’t bear to read whatever goodbye letters they had written each other before Rachel’s death. 

Rachel and Dorothy wrote so beautifully about the woods and sea of Southport that Allie and I felt compelled to experience it for ourselves. We booked a weekend at the Newagen Inn, where Dorothy and Rachel spent many afternoons and where Dorothy ultimately scattered Rachel’s ashes into the sea.  It took a long and rather comical wild goose chase for Allie and me to find the plaque that marks this place on the shoreline, but when we did, we sat side by side on a boulder in front of it, gazing at the high tide ocean beyond it. We wondered at what that place was like 50 years previous, when Rachel and Dorothy had probably sat talking in the very same spot. We walked along the rocky shore, and through the evergreen forest that surrounded it, searching the trees for the songbirds Rachel and Dorothy had known and loved. Most memorable to me is the incredible, salty air – so refreshing it was like a medicine for all ailments.

That night, Allie lay asleep beside me while I stayed up late to finish reading Always, Rachel.  I felt that I could handle Rachel’s death now, here at the Newagen Inn, in a place where I felt her presence so strongly. A strangely soothing thunderstorm kept me company through the open window, and although I could not see anything through the blackness of the night, I could hear the wild wind and waves rushing the shore.  Rachel’s and Dorothy’s last letters were of the happiness the two of them shared watching the migration of Monarchs one morning, despite knowing it was their last journey, and how when the cycle of life runs its course the end is not unhappy, but natural. Rachel and Dorothy were exceptionally good at appreciating their time together, frequently re-reading cherished letters and immersing themselves in memories of time spent together in nature. As Dorothy put it, “If we had only moonlight, shared, to remember, our storehouse would be unusually rich. But there are the Sea, the Shore, the Woods, the Gardens, the Marshes, Phosphorescence, Wind, Sun, Sand, Scents -- oh, my Darling.” (Always, Rachel, p. 336).

I lay awake thinking about how many people know Rachel Carson as the woman whose 1962 book Silent Spring, an indictment of carcinogenic pesticides, birthed the modern environmental movement and led to a ban on DDT, but I do not think she would want that to be her sole legacy. Her intention, as she said, was to inspire in people a sense of wonder about the natural world. She wanted us to understand that what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves. The more a person understands and appreciates his place in the interdependent web of life, the less likely he is to destroy it.

It grew late, and the thunderstorm was lulling me to sleep. I snuggled down next to my love, deeply grateful for her and our time together. As Rachel told Dorothy once, “Time is a precious gift, and it’s one that can’t be hoarded, but must be used well and joyously as it slips through our fingers.” (p. 518). How can I best use my precious gift of time? The Earth is in crisis and needs many people to take bold action to save it, and it can feel like there is no time to lie on a hillside holding hands with your lover and watching the clouds drift by, when there is so much work to be done. But paradoxically, precisely because there is no time to waste, we must slow down, and fall more deeply in love with the Earth. Rachel shows us how. Just months from her death and in a wheelchair, she was thrilled to visit the redwood forest for the first time, and practically on her deathbed, she was still writing to Dorothy, “There is so much I want to learn about the wind, the clouds, the air movements, and of course, the rain!” (p. 495). As children, we are all born with this kind of passion and curiosity about nature – if we can hold onto it for the span of our lives, and share it with our loved ones, then the Earth has a chance and Rachel’s spirit lives forever in us.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Genius of Nature

Nature is so freakin smart and amazing and beautiful and inspiring. 
Why do we ridiculous humans always think we can one up and outdo nature?
Why can't we just watch, listen, and learn? 

Parrots eat fruit with a toxin in it and then know to go eat a certain kind of clay that flushes the toxin from their systems - how do they know to do that? 

Birds migrate thousands of miles knowing exactly where they're going 
with internal GPS better than anything we could ever have. 
(Never "lost connection! Recalculating!") 

Dolphins' echolocation allows them to experience the world in a way we never will.



Have you seen photos of snowflakes magnified?  
Each is unbelievably perfect in design, and no two are alike.

My dog can be sound asleep in the house and immediately wake up in alertness when he catches the scent of something my partner and I are oblivious to, 
and sometimes he looks at us like "WHY ARE YOU SO DUMB?". 



Sea birds fly mere inches away from the surface of the water, 
even with the raging, unpredictable (to us!) waves, 
not only never getting wet, but looking so graceful they'd rival any ballerina. 

Trees are so tall and proud and sure of themselves, 
never fretting over whether their bark is ugly 
or if they look too fat with all those leaves, 
and they communicate with each other through their roots in mysterious ways. 



Nothing in nature is ever wasted by any species other than us -
other things in nature use only the resources they need. 
Can you imagine a herd of deer creating a landfill?

Humans are the only species that stupidly render our own habitat unlivable, 
by poisoning our own water, air, soil, and food. 

Crows know not to eat the GMO corn - why do we eat it? 

Elephants sense a storm coming and know to move to higher ground, 
whereas without our TVs and emergency radio weather alerts, 
we'd be sitting ducks. 

Termites create their own heating and cooling vents in their homes to control the internal temperatures, without fancy electronics and sky-high electric bills. 

Nature is a freakin genius, and we should be taking notes. 



How long would you
or your family
or your neighborhood
or America 
last
if the power went out right now....
....and never came back on? 

The animals and everything in nature would love it, 
and thrive. 
We're the only species so divorced from the realities of nature; 
we're the only species that would struggle. 

All of our health is bound up with the health of the Earth. 

When the Exxon CEO laments, "What good is saving the planet if humanity suffers?", his question perfectly highlights the problem: 
the widespread, completely backwards belief that "humanity" and "the planet" are separate and in opposition to each other. 
Does the Exxon CEO think "the planet" is "the birds and bears and stuff in that forest over there, which has nothing to do with me, here with my electronic gadgets in my climate-controlled private jet"?
He means, ceasing to extract and burn fossil fuels would cause his profits to suffer.
He thinks that's more important than the planet as a whole.
But he, like all of us, only breathes thanks to phytoplankton and trees.
He, like all of us, eats and drinks thanks to the soil, sun, water, plants, animals, insects, and bees.

If the planet suffers, humanity suffers.
You, me, and every human being - including the Exxon CEO - can only be as healthy as the Earth is.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Don't Let the Tar Sands Come!

NEW ENGLANDERS!  Help stop the proposed pipeline!  It would transport tar sands oil - the NASTIEST of the nasty oil - from Alberta, Canada, through Vermont and New Hampshire, right to Casco Bay in Portland, Maine.

Look at this beauty - help protect it!



 
MORE INFO HERE:
http://www.vpirg.org/fracking/
http://risingtidevermont.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/addison-county-residents-climate-justice-advocates-protest-fracking-pipeline-at-psb-hearing/
http://www.risingtidevermont.org/stop-the-vermont-gas-pipeline.html

VERMONTERS, here's what to do:

1.  PHONE - 
 Call Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia (802-828-4071) and tell him to say NO to the Addison Natural Gas Project/Vermont Gas Pipeline.

Sample script: "Hello, my name is __________, and I am from (your town).  I am calling to tell you to support Vermonter's right to a healthy environment and livable planet and take a stand against the Addison Natural Gas Project.  The Department of Public Service must protect the public by saying no to false climate solutions like fracked gas."


2.  EMAIL - 
http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/5980/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=8434

3. SHOW UP IN PERSON - go to the public hearing on Tues., Sept. 10!
http://www.vpirg.org/news/stop-the-fracked-gas-pipeline-on-sept-10th/


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

NO FRACKING WAY

Obama's recent speech on climate change has been applauded by many environmentalists, who are excited that he's finally walking his talk, finally taking real action to reduce carbon and emissions and protect the planet.

I'm not seeing that.  I'm seeing that at least half a dozen times throughout his speech, he crows about America's increasing natural gas production, saying:

"We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions."

 He defends and applauds fracking, and calls for more of it.  Fracking is a HUGE STEP BACKWARDS.  As Josh Fox, the director of Gaslands puts it, fracking is not a "bridge," it's a gangplank.  I can't take seriously any climate change plan that encourages such a destructive, dangerous, polluting practice.  It almost makes Obama's speech as a whole irrelevant to me. 

"We are unstoppable! A fracking ban is possible!"

On June 17, my mom and I went to Albany to join a few thousand New Yorkers in a rally at the Statehouse to demand that Governor Cuomo say NO to fracking and YES to renewable energy.  It felt great to be in a sea of people who have the shared values & vision of a healthy Earth.


 I marched with my sign - 


 I sang along with Natalie Merchant -


 And I cheered so much for Sandra Steingraber that my throat hurt.


ROCK ON, New York.

*******
EDITED to add....

And then I found this article, which knocked my socks off!  We activists are WINNING!  If ever you doubt the power of activism, read this!

"'I'm surprised the governor hasn't done anything yet, and I attribute that to the political organization of the anti-frackers,' [New York state Attorney General Eric] Schneiderman said Tuesday [...]  

'They have out-organized the oil and gas industry. That's impressive.'   

[...]  The anti-fracking coalition has been so strong, Schneiderman said, that gas drillers might not bother pursing hydrofracking in New York. 

'At this point it seems they've almost given up on New York,' Schneiderman said. 'They've got other places they can frack where it's less trouble. If you make enough of a nuisance of yourself, people will leave you alone.'"

Activism WORKS, friends.  Together we are strong!

One Victory Down...

Approximately 45 minutes ago, I believe, the Supreme Court ruled on same-sex marriage - that is, whether or not my partner and I, and other lesbians and gay people, are full human beings deserving of the same rights as straight people.  I don't know what the ruling was, because I'm too scared to find out.  This has a huge impact on my life.  If it's bad news, I don't want to be crying alone... so I'm waiting for my partner to come home, so we can either celebrate or cry together.  In the meantime, I need to avoid the Internet, so I don't unintentionally hear the news via someone's reaction on Facebook, or worse.  This is huge news, about my RIGHTS AS A HUMAN BEING, and I can't bear the thought of first finding out about it via a random headline on the Yahoo! mail page, sandwiched in between articles about a funny event at a football game and the best way to grill vegetables.

Dare I hope be optimistic that the Supreme Court will do the right thing this time?  After all, they shockingly (to me) did the right thing earlier this month, when they ruled that 

Corporations cannot patent genes!

Breast Cancer Action (BCAction) was a plaintiff in the Supreme Court case against Myriad Genetics, a company that had (wrongfully, the ACLU argued on behalf of BCAction) patented the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.   When Myriad Genetics held a patent on the genes, it meant that they were the ONLY company legally allowed to test women's BRCA genes to see if they had mutations that put them at risk for breast cancer, and Myriad could sue any other company that dared to try doing that test or doing research with the BRCA genes.  This, of course, meant that Myriad also got to set the price as high as they wanted, which precluded many women from being able to get the test.

But BCAction and others fought long and hard against this injustice, and WON!!!  Read all about it here, at BCAction's website.

I'm thrilled that the Supreme Court had the common sense to rule that corporations cannot own a part of the human body.  It's as silly as claiming to own a sunbeam.  Two of my doctors have suggested, since my breast cancer diagnosis, that I consider having my BRCA genes tested for mutations - because if I test positive, I have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer and might want to have my ovaries removed in a prophylactic surgery.  I had decided that I would not even consider the idea until/unless Myriad's patent was overturned, just on principle, to protest the wrongness of a corporation "owning" a part of my body.  Now that Myriad's patent has been deemed illegal, I will consider the possibility of genetic testing.

Supreme Court, thank you for ruling that my genes belong to me.  Now, please also rule in favor of my right to love and marry the woman that I choose to.  DO THE RIGHT THING!

********
EDITED AT 6:00 PM

My partner came home from work.  She, too, had avoided the news all day.  So I braced myself, and we sat down on the couch together and pulled up the NY Times website.  When I saw the headline, I burst into HAPPY tears!

THANK YOU, SCOTUS!



Thursday, June 13, 2013

We can't be healthy on a sick planet!



Dear fellow breast cancer survivors who use alternative or complementary medicine,


My name is Britta.  I was diagnosed three years ago at the age of 30.  It was a shock, because I was so young, had no family history of the disease, and had a healthy diet and lifestyle.  I know many of you can relate! 

We know that the traditional advice for reducing your risk of breast cancer – healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, avoiding alcohol and smoking – is good advice that everyone should follow for general health, but is not enough.  Like many of you, I am always seeking further strategies for reducing my risk of recurrence – I eat broccoli and brussels sprouts, drink green tea, take turmeric capsules, and soak in detox baths.  Our stories are all different, but what we have in common is a desire to remove all cancer from our bodies and prevent its return.  There are many strategies to try, and many books, articles, and websites full of information on herbs and supplements, detoxing your body, anti-cancer recipes, and how to be a smarter shopper to avoid carcinogenic foods and products. 

I’m writing to ask you to consider a different kind of cancer risk reduction strategy: environmental activism.

I am writing to you during a thunderstorm, toasty warm by the fireplace at the Newagen Inn in Southport, Maine.  I am here on a pilgrimage – this is where Rachel Carson, world famous scientist and writer, whom many credit as the founder of the environmental movement and impetus for the creation of the EPA, spent her summers.  This is where she studied, marveled at, and wrote about the natural world and humans’ relationship with it.  Rachel’s most well-known book, Silent Spring, warned us all about the dangers of the indiscriminate use of carcinogenic chemicals, and the dangers of global warming due to humans’ overuse of fossil fuels.  She had barely finished writing and publishing Silent Spring before she herself died of breast cancer, in 1964.  I am a few hundred feet from where Rachel’s beloved, Dorothy, scattered her ashes into the sea.




Earlier today, I sat with my own beloved on the rocks, barely beyond the reach of the crashing waves, in front of the plaque with Rachel’s name on it.  I thought about what Rachel might be thinking, writing, and doing if she were alive now in 2013.  She would be appalled by GMOs, which are so likely to be carcinogenic and harmful to human health in a myriad of ways that many countries ban them, while the US government refuses to even label them.  The realities of fracking – a process which destroys and poisons land and water with carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, to feed our fossil fuel addiction - would bring her to her knees.  She would be angry to learn that this May, a few weeks before what would have been her 106th birthday, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million for the first time in millions of years, due to humans’ overuse of fossil fuels.

What does this 400 ppm milestone mean, for the Earth and its inhabitants?  It means temperatures rising faster than most of us expected, an inevitable loss of much human habitat as the sea level rises and swallows up land, an increasing loss of breathable air, and more super storms.  It means that yesterday, last month, years ago, decades ago, we should have been reducing then eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels and switching entirely to renewable energy.  It means that we should have all taken Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring to heart and phased out carcinogenic chemicals while developing green chemistry programs and strong regulations for chemicals based on the precautionary principle. 

But we didn’t, and here we are.

What I have come to understand through my studies of the environmental links to breast cancer is that it is not enough for me to focus solely on my own body.  My health is bound up with the health of all women, and all of our health is bound up with the health of the Earth.  No matter how many organic vegetables we eat, or how many mugs of Essaic tea we drink, we can never be fully healthy if the Earth is sick.  Try as we might to maintain healthy diets and lifestyles and avoid carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals through consumer choices, industry – with its sociopathic, “Profits only, screw the people and the planet” mindset, has a multitude of ways of undermining our healthy choices.  Try as we might to make green fortresses out of our homes, we are all exposed to numerous carcinogenic chemicals against our will and often without our knowledge.

Don’t despair!  I know it can feel hopeless, and changing corporations and the government can feel so out of reach it’s not worth trying for.  I know that anti-cancer gurus in the alternative health community, such as Kris Carr and Dr. David Servan-Schrieber, speak negatively of social change activism’s chance of success and preach personal empowerment through healthier diet and lifestyle choices.  But I’m here to say that wide scale change IS possible if we all join together, and that we MUST do so to improve ALL of our health.  We need each other.  We have more strength together than we do alone.


my beloved, holding a snail, from one of "Rachel's" tidepools

The current atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have negative consequences for the health and well-being of all living beings, and unless we as a country decrease then end our reliance on fossil fuels, our health will continue to decline – regardless of what choices you and I are making at the grocery store.  So if you find yourself considering purchasing something like a personal air purifier to wear around your neck to filter the air that’s heading toward your face, consider instead giving that money to an organization – such as Breast Cancer Action – that is working to pass legislation that would result in cleaner air EVERYWHERE, for ALL of us.  I dream of a society in which a person's reaction to a cancer diagnosis is not to run out and buy a juicer, but to call up Congress and demand better environmental regulations!

Let’s join together, for the Earth, for Rachel, for you and me, and for the future of our children and generations not yet born.  This summer, now, is the time to take action in any way that you can.  Start where you are, and challenge yourself to do something, whether it’s as small as wearing a “Support GMO Labeling” button on your bag, or as bold as risking arrest in nonviolent civil disobedience.  Whether you’re signing a petition or chaining yourself to a truck to prevent it from transporting fracking fluids, every action counts, and every action is needed.  


high tide at the place where Rachel Carson's ashes were scattered
Some ideas:
  • While you’re eating your cruciferous vegetables and drinking from your BPA-free cup, write to your senator to demand a ban on BPA and all endocrine-disrupting chemicals in all food packaging and dishes.   
  •  Get your exercise by carrying a sign and marching at the NO to fracking/YES to renewable energy rally in Albany on June 17, or a rally local to you. 
  •  When you have an extra 10 minutes, instead of Googling the ingredients in your toothpaste, scribble another postcard to Obama to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.
We do not have the money that the polluting fossil fuel industry/1% has, but what we have is numbers.   


You and I need each other.
The Earth needs us.
We need the Earth. 

LET’S DO THIS!

Circus for Survivors!

I'm thrilled to be a facilitator for Circus for Survivors, a collaboration between Forest Moon and NECCA, to share my love of (and the therapeutic benefits of) circus arts with other cancer survivors and their loved ones.  The program was recently profiled in a four-minute segment on Vermont Public Radio.  Check it out!

 

me trapezing after lumpectomy surgery

Monday, May 27, 2013

Today

Today on Memorial Day, on Rachel Carson's birthday,

I send love and prayers to the thousands of women and men in the US military who are sexually assaulted by men in the US military and have received no justice. 

I send love and prayers to the dozens of men who are living with breast cancer as a result of water at the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune being contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, and to the people who have died as a result of those carcinogenic chemicals at Camp Lejeune. 

I send love and prayers to the dolphins, whales, and sea creatures who have died as a result of Navy activity. 

I send love and prayers to ALL people, animals, plants, and trees harmed by environmental destruction caused by the US military, the world's largest polluter. 

I send love and prayers to the families of all people who have been killed or harmed in wars - women, children, men, members of the military, and civilians, in the US and all countries. 

I send love and prayers to the thousands of "comfort women" of Japan, who were forced by their own government to endure multiple rapes by soldiers, and never received justice. 

I send love and prayers to the families who are living with or have died from cancer as a result of living too close to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility, or other nuclear weapons facility, and did not receive any protection. 



I send prayers for an immediate end to all war, violence, and destruction of the Earth.

I send prayers for peace, and for all humans to have deep respect for the interconnected web of life of which we are all a part.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Every Day is Earth Day



My beloved So. Yarmouth, MA beach. Quote by Sandra Steingraber.


Dear Ocean,

You are my home - 
from newborn to adult, I grew up on your shores.
You are my inspiration - 
as a child I sat in a rock cave on your beach and wrote poems of my joys and sorrows.
You are my lullaby - 
the sound of your waves lulled me to sleep at night, in my bed with sandy sheets.
You are my playground - 
I hula hoop on your sand and do somersaults in your waves.
You are my medicine - 
your salinity cleanses my wounds and eases the soreness in my muscles.
You are my favorite hair stylist - 
I never want to wash the salt and wind out of my wild hair.
You are my god - 
I love the whole world a little bit more every time I'm with you.
You are my gym - 
swimming in your water and running in your sand strengthens my lungs and heart.
You are my best audience - 
I sing songs into the shoreline wind I would never sing for another.
You are my source of nourishment - 
shrimp, dulse, scallops, nori, from your belly to mine.
You are my arts and crafts supplier - 
I fill my home with seaglass, shells, driftwood, and photos of you.
You are my teacher - 
you show me how to be strong and gentle both, stable and yet constantly evolving.
You are my home - 
forever.  
What can I give to you, for all that you give to me? 


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~
What I give to my beloved ocean:
a promise to oppose fracking and the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, every chance I get!  Water, along with air, is our most precious resource.  Fracking, the process of drilling deep into the bedrock and blasting huge amounts of sand, water, and chemicals into it in order to create cracks that release natural gas, is a dangerous activity in many ways.  One of its biggest harms is that it removes millions of gallons of fresh, clean water from the water cycle forever.  Fracking gobbles up millions of gallons of water that becomes so poisoned by hundreds of chemicals that it can never be used again.  Fracking is wrong, and cannot be done safely, and must be stopped.  No amount of money made from fracking could possibly make fracking "worth it."  Money is paper, and money isn't real.  Water is.  Water is life.  We humans do not literally need money to stay alive, but try spending even one day without water.  Then ask yourself, which is more valuable?  Even if someone offered me a million dollars to put a drilling rig in my backyard, I would say no.  NO to the destruction of the Earth and water, and NO to the water in my kitchen sink being so full of chemicals that you can set it on fire as it comes out of the tap.  As Sandra Steingraber explains in her (brilliant, fierce) Earth Day letter from jail, some fracking wastes will be used to make plastics, a large portion of which will eventually add bulk to the already-inexcusably-huge garbage patch in the ocean.  Fracking is the enemy of all water, of all types.

Ocean, Water, I promise you, I love you most of all.  I will do what I can to protect you and urge others to do the same.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~


If you want to oppose fracking, too, here's a starting place - http://apps.toxicstargeting.com/ms_email_template.php
It's a template letter that you can send to Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of NY.  Currently there is a moratorium on fracking in NY to gather more information about it.  Many activists, scientists, health professionals, parents, and concerned citizens are asking Gov. Cuomo to JUST SAY NO to fracking.  If you live in NY, write to Gov. Cuomo and tell him to protect your home!  If you don't live in NY, write anyway!  It's not like toxic chemicals respect state boundaries, you know?  The pollution from fracking in any location could end up in your body or mine, via the air we breathe or the food we eat.

If you first want to learn more about fracking, I recommend the documentary "Gasland," which is available to stream on Netflix, or go to http://www.nyagainstfracking.org.  The latter is a group that Sandra Steingraber helped start.  She won a $100,000 award for the work she has done (as a biologist and writer, educating the public about the environmental links to cancer), and despite the fact that her family really could have used that money, she donated it all to the anti-fracking movement.  Because she knows that ALL of our well-being depends on the Earth's well-being.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sandra Steingraber is my Earth Day Hero!

While many people today are "celebrating" Earth Day by, oh, wearing an organic cotton T-shirt while drinking fair trade coffee, Sandra Steingraber - a hero of mine for years, but now more than ever - is spending Earth Day in jail because of her deep commitment to the environment.

You can read the story here.  (includes video).
And you can read Sandra's writings from jail here.

Sandra, along with 11 other inspiring activists, blocked the path of a truck to prevent it from storing toxic fracking waste under Seneca Lake, which provides drinking water to many people.  She was arrested for this non-violent act of trespassing and sentenced to 15 days in jail.  She is there now.  Fifteen days away from her husband, her children, nature, fresh air, coffee, her work, her home, privacy, and adequate sleep.

Instead of sending her letters of support, Sandra wants people to send letters to the editor and/or letters to Governor Cuomo to say no to fracking.  (There's a template here.)   In solidarity with Sandra, and in gratitude for the personal sacrifices she is making to take a stand for the Earth's health, I'm pledging now to engage in some form of anti-fracking/environmental activism (e.g. blogging, letter-writing, monetary donations) every day for the duration of Sandra's sentence.



To start with, here's my email to Gov. Cuomo, which I sent in the mail to Sandra, too:


Dear Governor Cuomo:

My name is Britta, and I live in Vermont.  I'm writing to you today because I'm deeply concerned about the negative health effects of fracking, and I urge you to be a truly inspiring leader by banning fracking in New York - Vermont already has, and I'm so proud to be a Vermonter.  Why do I write to you, when I live in VT?  Because all across the nation, those of us who care about the health of the Earth - for humans' health is dependent on it - are watching you.  If you are bold enough to say no to fracking, and say YES to health, others will follow suit.

At the VERY least, I request that you maintain New York's Marcellus Shale gas extraction moratorium until your Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner, Dr. Nirav R. Shah, completes a comprehensive Public Health Impact Study of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF).  This study must document:

A: The broad spectrum of toxic and persistent pollutants generated by HVHF activities;
B: The environmental fate and transport mechanisms associated with the toxic and persistent pollutants generated by HVHF activities;
C: Known and potential public exposures to toxic and persistent HVHF pollutants, including: contaminant concentrations; exposure duration; an assessment of all potential public health consequences; and
D: Whether the Draft SGEIS adequately safeguards public health from HVHF toxic pollution threats. 

I write to you in solidarity with biologist Sandra Steingraber, a hero of mine.  Her work to protect the health of the Earth and the health of humans has been inspiring me for years.  She is in jail right now for blocking the path of an Inergy truck that was going to put toxic fracking waste in storage under Seneca Lake.  Her small and non-violent act of trespassing was an attempt to prevent a bigger, more dangerous act of trespass: the trespass of toxic, carcinogenic, endocrine-disrupting chemicals into our air, drinking water, and bodies.  Yes, I say "our" even though I live over 250 miles away from Seneca Lake and have never even been there, because toxic chemicals know no boundaries - DDT is found in mothers' breast milk today, despite being banned over 30 years ago.  There is virtually no body of water in the country in which Atrazine cannot be found.  The nuclear disaster in Japan resulted in radioactive milk in New England.  Everything is interconnected; it’s all one Earth.

I have friends and family in New York whose health and well-being I care about, and fracking would put them in danger.  I would like to be able to continue visiting New York, and buy food produced in New York, but I will be hesitant to do so if there is fracking going on, for I’ve already had cancer twice and I’m only 34.  Please keep New York healthy and safe by banning fracking, and by doing so, set an example for the rest of the country.

Thank you,
Britta

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