CORNER WINDOW by Jeff Hartzer
#007: July, 2007
So what did you do on the Luckiest Day ever? On the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year did you marry your sweetheart or welcome your seventh child or feel inspired by Kelly Clarkson to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs? My wife of 20 years and I tried to enjoy Live Earth, the all-day, 7-continent concert series organized by Al Gore, et al with the hopes of inspiring folks around the world to work to save the earth from its warming problem. But we were not inspired. Maybe it was the choice of performers. Maybe it was the small scope of change amidst all that hype. Maybe Roger Daltrey of The Who is right, “The last thing the planet needs is another rock concert.”
The heart of the Save the Earth problem can be seen in the South Valley, where farmland and strip malls lie side by side. How do we maintain a healthy economy and a healthy environment at the same time? One inspired answer came to us when we switched to KNME and watched Standing Silent Nation, a documentary about a Lakota Sioux family growing industrial hemp. This film had heart and soul and earth-changing potentials. Here was a way to serve the earth and the economy and empower people, too. But the U.S. Government will have none of it. Repeatedly, DEA agents with guns aplenty confiscated the plants because of their relation to marijuana. At 0.5% THC levels these plants are non-hallucinogenic. But ...
Now I won’t get into all the politics of hemp, except to say that it could save a lot of water and poor people. Hemp can be used to make paper, rope, clothing ... and it’s all biodegradable. It thrives in “poor” soil, needs little water, and is low on the list for a number of bugs. Perhaps more importantly, it can lift people out of poverty and off the dole, all by the sweat of their brows in a way that helps the planet. Alex White Plume, one of the Sioux hemp growers, says it well, “I’m in favor of all forms of economic development as long as it doesn’t have that Western mentality of exploiting the earth, exploiting the air and exploiting the water. To them, all they want to do is make a dollar. They don’t care how much damage they do. I’m not for that.”
“Reduce, Re-use, Recycle” is the motto we are to live by. But saving the planet has to be more than just swapping your gas-guzzler for a hybrid and putting your newspapers out on the curb twice a month. It’s the rural and poor people who seem to be thinking outside the box. As seen on Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs (we watch a lot of teevee), they are taking those discarded vehicular polluters and converting them to run on used cooking oil. They are using cow manure to make planters. And some are trying to grow a cash crop in harmony with the earth.
So when you pick up that discarded couch on the corner and put it in your garage, when you make art out of old industrial metal shavings, when you refill your soda bottles with tap water, give yourself credit for “reducing, re-using, recycling.” And then write your Representatives and Senators and demand they create policies that demand big industries live by the same motto. Then turn up your swamp cooler and relax!
Jeff Hartzer © 2007