Wednesday, May 1, 2013

a fool for the planet

Earth Day passed with nary a word from me.  I didn't even make the fairly lame gesture of tweeting last year's Earth Day post, have you hugged a republican today?  

And I didn't hug a Republican either.

I admit, last week I was too preoccupied with reading the boys next door at Listen to Your Mother DC to write about anything else (it was great fun, btw--thanks to everyone who came out!).

I haven't been completely silent, however. 

On April, 14th, I trekked down to Richmond with my activist friend Lisa to protest Dominion Virginia Power's plans to spend over one billion dollars to build a fracked-gas power plant in Brunswick, VA.   The plant would increase carbon fuel emissions by 25% over the next 20 years. 

Increase?  Isn't that the opposite of what we're supposed to be doing?

Some may say VA is for "lovers," but it could be that VA is for "losers" - losers in the race to clean energy.  According to the VA Chapter Sierra Club, VA ranks close to last in the nation for investment in clean energy.  While Dominion Power's short-sighted fracked-gas plant commits our beautiful state to decades of dirty fuel and dangerous extraction methods, our more progressive friends in Maryland move inexorably into the 21st Century with plans to build an offshore wind farm 12 miles off the coast of Ocean City, MD.  It would be the second in the nation (after Cape Wind in the Nantucket Sound).  That is exciting!

I wish some of those smarts would rub off on us!  Why in the world would we invest in fossil fuel infrastructure at this late date? In my mind, the Age of Oil is over. 

Dominion Virgina Power doesn't seem to get that. I don't want to let them reduce Virginia to nothing but a carbon powered dinosaur, chugging and slugging its way to extinction with clouds of sooty black smoke ballooning out from our decrepit state chimney. (I wish I could draw).

So, I went to Richmond to protest Dominion's Brunswick plans.

I want to tell you this particular demonstration was in inspiration.  The plan itself, hatched by the VA Chapter Sierra Club, was full of promise and fun: gather outside the Dominion Virgina Power building and dance the electric slide. 

Imagine the stuffy executives watching our antics from their high perch while pacing and rubbing their chins with worried consternation, one saying to the other in an unmistakable good ol' boy drawl, "I need a drink!"  As they toss back their Sunday morning bourbon, they despair over the billions of fracking dollars they worry might swirl down the throat of a more responsible environmental policy.

Ah yes. 

But this is VA, not Hollywood.  In VA, turnout for this protest was poor.  If any Dominion executives watched, they probably used the morning to reassure themselves that everything would be OK.  Ugh.

Meanwhile, my friend Lisa and I, two self-proclaimed introverts, found ourselves in the middle of a sparsely attended protest where we would be expected to dance the electric slide for the cameras like we'd never had so much fun in our lives.  When the speeches ended and the moment came, we looked at each other with silent recognition: "Oh my god, now we will have to dance."

When we heard that those less inclined to dance could hold up a letter in the back, we bee-lined it for the placards.  Somehow, I ended up with a letter, and Lisa did not.  (I should have given her mine, I'm sure of it). 

I'm holding the "R" in "Energy."  Lisa, bless her heart, did the sliiiide.

Then she took pictures (which saved her from being in this one).

To make up for snagging the letter, I did a fair bit of foolish rockin' out of my own, waving my "R" around with my feet rooted in place like a funky dancing flower. Anything to make the fracking and the burning stop, right?

It's hard to be the ones who care about clean energy in a state that apparently, doesn't. It's not that much fun to dance the electric slide by yourself, you know!? But guess what, all the more reason to do it then.   If we're not willing to make a fool of ourselves for the planet, who will?

Eventually, the music stopped and we packed up our signs and went home.  The fight didn't end there, however.  The State Corporation Commission held a Public Hearing on Dominion's plans last week, April 24th.  I couldn't make it, but Lisa attended by herself (no dancing required) and despite her nerves, worked up the gumption to speak (go Lisa!!).   

Regardless of how the SCC rules, I suppose the point is that if we want to stand up for our planet against monopolizing corporations like Dominion, we may have to step outside of our comfort zone to do it.  That doesn't mean you have to dance alone in a field (although that hopefully doesn't hurt)! But it could mean speaking before a commission, or perhaps just posting your concerns to Facebook, sharing a link, or raising awareness among your friends. 

So go ahead, in belated honor of earth day, find a way to be a fool for the planet!

If you're a Virginian concerned with the direction Dominion VA Power wants to take our state, visit their Facebook page and and let them know!

Want to know more about green initiatives in your state? Visit the Sierra Club main page and hit the local tab to find your state chapter. 


  1. Thanks for highlighting our activism. Speak truth to power is my new motto!

    1. Sorry, that 'anonymous' comment was from me. i can never recall how to make a comment. i think i have three profiles listed up there.

    2. thanks lisa! yes - you do have 3 profiles. please don't ever stop following--if you do, my readership with drop dramatically!! :)

  2. You are both heroines! Truly. Your voices, and your dances!

    1. haven't seen the dancing yet... :)