the bear’s journey

Today, I took my bear for an adventure. We experienced humans at their creative best and at their angriest worst. Below is a photo essay of the bear exploring the world. 

Morning tea. Ahh.

At my painting class. I painted a picture of the bears, using a technique called pointillism. It involves making dots with the tip of the paintbrush. Some people consider it tedious because, to get the right effect, it is necessary to make many dots. I actually found it relaxing to paint so many dots. I even signed my name with dots.

After the painting session, it was time for the Valentine’s Day party. We had all sorts of treats and we exchanged Valentines to one another.

Bear loves chocolate.

In a windowsill at Stella Niagara, where the painting class was held.

In the evening, we went to the third of three public hearings on the Northern Access Pipeline at Niagara County Community College. The project involves building pipelines, compression stations, and a dehydration station. The room where the public hearing was held was so packed that it may have been violating fire codes. People came in large groups to make three minute speeches, either in favor or against the pipeline. The bear sat on a seat and listened politely to the humans as they spoke either for or against the pipeline project. The humans, however, did not listen very politely. They yelled, cheered, whistled, and tried to drown out anyone who disagreed with them. 

The bear looked embearassed to hear such behavior from adult humans.

Supporters of the pipeline talked about National Fuel Gas being a local company that would produce jobs. They said that the proposed pipeline would improve the economy and that it was environmentally friendly.
“The project will put hundreds of skilled tradespeople to work.”
“These are good paying construction jobs.”
“This is the fuel for our future.”
“National Fuel Gas reliably constructs, maintains, and operates facilities in an environmentally friendly way.”
“I wanted to build the future of the area.”
“The absolute safest way to transport national gas is by pipeline. It is monitored and shut off when it needs to be.”
“Natural gas is cleaner burning than other fossil fuels.”
Some supporters criticized and even ridiculed pipeline opponents. 
“They drove cars to get here, and they live in warm homes, heated by fossil fuels.”
“There are a lot of fears and misinformation out there.”
Opponents of the pipeline cited a gas leak in Franklinville, N.Y. Gas leaked for a year before it was repaired. They said that the facilities were dangerous to the environment.
“I had breast cancer and lung disease. We are good and sick. The compressor station is poison.”
“Any mechanical facility has a risk of explosion.”
“A leak will contaminate the ground water and the soil.”
“Methane is more potent than carbon dioxide.”
“Pipelines leak. It has nothing to do with the skill of the craftsmen who put them in.”
“Why is organized labor on the side of large corporations and chambers of commerce?”
“If you approve this, you are going against the wishes of this town (Pendleton, N.Y.) You are going to put our lives in a great deal of danger.”
“Calling natural gas clean is a marketing tool.”
Opponents of the pipeline said:
“Future generations will answer for our mistakes.”
“Water is life.”
“Land is life.”
“Take care of what you have.”
“Benzene permeates the air and the soil.”
“I speak for the water, the animals, the birds, the trees, and the plants. They will be protected.”
“We will protect the water.”
“We can’t eat money.”
“We can’t drink oil.”
“We will stand together.”
“We are fighting to protect our wetlands.”
“I live here. I have to breathe the crap in the air. Please say no.”

3 thoughts on “the bear’s journey”

  1. You are a great reporter! And artist. The world is probably not ready for you, but your persistence and creativity will prevail. Thank you thank you!!

  2. The reason why pipeline sitings are political are just that- the facts on both sides are correct. The regulations to ensure safety, assuming it's built, are often not enforced…

    Ah, for a magic wand…

  3. Two sides to every issue, and that is a problem for those who don't see the world in black and white. We need heat and fuel, but we also need clean air and water, and energy independence. And we haven't come up with a good compromise yet.

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