Today my twelve-year-old daughter and I joined hundreds of men, women and children at Brayton Point, a coal-fired power plant in Somerset, Massachusetts. We were with Mothers Out Front and 350.org; we were with an angry mother from West Virginia coal country; we were in a community that deserves not to be the seat of protest, but rather the locus of hope that a radical turnaround in the use of fossil fuels could bring.
Indeed, it’s the economic predicament of towns like Somerset and coal towns in Appalachia that seem to give my daughter the most pause.
It’s the feeling of imposing, even intruding, on a community, that made me balk, even as I walked and shouted in view of the plant. There were a few protesters who voiced their support of the Somerset community to the onlookers whom we assumed to be local.
“We want you to have good jobs,”
called out one, passing a teenager with two adults (and a dog) who stared at the procession en route. However weak the delivery, however it may have raised more questions than answers, that sentiment was–is–right. And if it’s not right up front, and backed with deeds, not pledges, then this isn’t a transformation that’s going to have wings. I’ll trade you those for the lead boots of political pandering and the duplicity of coal companies any day.
We’re tired, and a bit dehydrated, but with much more to say later about our experiences. Stay tuned for profiles of some of the people we met in the shadow of the power plant today. Meanwhile, my twitter feed will give you a window on our day of outrage and incredulity that coal still plays a role in our power supply.
Funnels—those are what the Brayton Point coal-fired power plant’s cooling towers look like.
The image has run across my screen fleetingly over the past several months. Those concrete twin cylinders are like a little fly in my peripheral vision.
It’s one of a hundred thousand images or more I’ve registered in that time, that is, since I’ve known Brayton Point is the target of Mothers Out Front, 350.org, and others in Massachusetts who want coal-fired plants outta here. The other one that’s stuck in my mind is a six year old’s garrulous, scrawled, ebullient list of observations during a visit to Fresh Pond Reservation. She came in after barely two hours in the simplest of habitats—the littlest bit of only one segment of our watershed here in Cambridge— sat in the circle, and diligently recorded her findings and those of her classmates. The kids ranged in age from four to six. They did not have the adult filters which relegate a goldfinch to the status of wallpaper, the bee to expendable background.
There is no expendable, until you’re taught so.
Thank you for the garrulous, scrawled record of busy animals and a sycamore that can hold a handful of kids in its hollow, little girl whom I shall not name here. Thank you, Mothers Out Front for trying to shut down Brayton Point.
I’m betting some mothers and some six-year–olds in Somerset, Massachusetts—where the funnels are more than just a fly across the visual field—as well as those farther away—none of us expendable—will be better off without a coal-fired plant in our midst.
Sprouts of Hope, an offshoot of Jane Goodall‘s Roots and Shoots comprised of a handful of girls who are now at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, is presenting their “Imagine a Sustainable Life Quilt” to the City of Cambridge today at City Hall, making Mayor Davis and all of us here in the people’s republic proud. Apparently citizens can request to have the quilt visit public sites around Cambridge. Did I mention Clara Wainwright was involved, Bill McKibben’s portrait is on the quilt, and the kids met Gloria Steinem?