Sunday, August 27, 2017

Poetry Collection - Draft One

Below is the introduction and first section of the poetry collection that I am writing. I value your feedback!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bold Alliance

My thanks to President Trump.  Truly.  If not for his decision to reverse the denial of the Keystone pipeline building permit, this week's display of solidarity across boundaries would not have taken place.  Given the violent conflicts happening in other parts of the world,  the news out of Nebraska was a needed counter example.

The advocacy group Bold Alliance did just as the name states, its leaders were the catalyst that formed an alliance between a wide-ranging collection of landowners, tribal members, and environmentalists.

The landowner group is made up of Nebraska ranchers and farmers whose property is being threatened with eminent domain seizure.  This group includes descendants of the original homesteaders who claimed land in the Nebraska Sandhills over one hundred years ago and converted it to agricultural use.

The tribal members are from the Ponca, Pawnee, Omaha, Santee, Sioux, and Winnebago nations, many of whom are descendants of the ancestors who were forcibly removed from the Great Plains by a foreign army to make way for the homesteaders.

The environmentalists are members of the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club,, Oil Change International,  Credo Action, National Resource Defense Council,, and Friends of the Earth.  Most of them are not Nebraskans, but their opposition to the Keystone pipeline brought them to the state this week to testify at a series of the Public Service Commission hearings.

The Public Service Commission will decide whether or not the pipeline serves the public interest. These commissioners have to define what is meant by "the public interest," and then determine if the pipeline meets that standard.  If the commissioners vote in favor of the pipeline, the State will act on its right of eminent domain and cede portions of private agricultural property to the TransCanada corporation.

At the hearings, each group gave voice to the issues that most concern them.  The Bold Alliance protested the transfer of private property to a foreign corporation.  The landowners described the fragility of their sandy soil and the danger of leaks contaminating the water necessary for their crops, animals, and families.  The tribes asserted their right to preserve burial grounds, ancestrals artifacts, and treaty lands.  The environmentalist warned of the threat to the endangered whooping crane posed by the power lines needed to support pipeline infrastructure.

In addition to testifying, alliance members also organized other events including a protest rally and march at the State capital building, a Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion signing ceremony and Prayer Walk, and the delivery of approximately 460,000 anti-pipeline public comments to the Commission.  Bold Alliance's ability to build relationships around creative, non-violent public protests is an example that Christian advocates can learn from.

The defiance and determination I heard coming out of Nebraska inspired a poem.  I am taking an online class offered by the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.  Part of the lesson this week was a lecture on documentary poetry.  These poems document a social justice event by using language found in court records, interviews, and reports and applying poetic techniques to bring out the emotions that are sometimes missing from archived facts.

The poem was inspired by a press conference given by Jane Kleeb, the president of the Bold Alliance, as well as the comments offered at the treaty signing by Casey Camp-Horinek, councilwoman of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.