MoCA Monday

I started the day with steel cut oats and a hot caramel at Brewhaha, a fun cafe on the same block as our apartments. I got in the studio early, revised the poem I workshopped yesterday, updated the manuscript with the changes, and started doing timings for prospective poems for our reading on Wednesday. Somewhere in there, I was momentarily on Facebook when I saw the news of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.

It reminded me of our initial residency here at MASS MoCA, which coincided with one of the big Paris attacks. I lift my thoughts and prayers on behalf of all the dead and injured, their family and friends, those caring for the wounded, and our woundedness. The world is swallowed in destruction and sorrow and it is so much harder to take when human beings perpetrate violence.

I allow myself a bit of time to mourn; then, try to turn back to art.

I was anxious to visit Building 6, which opened a few months ago. I wanted to go right at opening time for the day, but had forgotten that MoCA had already switched to off-season hours, which meant not opening until 11:00. I went back to the studio and followed instructions that daughter E had thoughtfully sent me on how to create a table of contents in google docs. And it worked! I had to do a bit of editing, but I now have a table of contents which can be refreshed to correct itself when I make changes.

I tried to experience as much of Building 6 as I could in the time available. I was amazed by James Turrell’s light installations. The work of Jenny Holzer is devastating. I loved the Gunnar Schonbeck instrument collection, especially the ones we were allowed to play. It was interesting how many of the instruments used organ pipes, albeit in unconventional ways. There was also a piano string assembly, which reminded me of my 20th century theory class at Smith and the concept of prepared piano. I had a lot of fun plucking and creating glissandos on the open strings.

The most striking thing for me, though, was the building itself. I have seen the exterior of this building throughout my life, built into the point where the two branches of the Hoosic meet. At the prow, there are now large windows, allowing an expansive view of the melding of the river. I found myself drawn to the windows along the sides of the building, as well. These are the old mill windows. Many of the panes show that glass is still a liquid, as you can see the waviness of the glass caused by the passage of time. I also love the old wood, brick , and stone. MASS MoCA understands that appeal and features exhibits of both old and new artistic renderings of the building itself.

The later part of the afternoon was taken up with workshopping, which is always so informative and enlightening for me. I love the work that everyone is doing and learn so much for everyone’s poems and comments.

After dinner, we had a special treat. Marilyn read the chapbook she is developing to us. So amazing! We are planning to workshop if with her tomorrow, but people couldn’t help but get a head start tonight.

More tomorrow.

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SoCS: weather (and climate)

Whether you live in a city or a town or more rural area, weather always seems to be a topic of conversation.

For example, at my recent college reunion (which – shameless plug – you can read about here and here and here), we talked a lot about rain. Our commencement thirty-five years ago had had to be moved indoors due to rain, which limited attendance to only two people per graduate and caused all manner of disruption. (This was before the construction of the spacious indoor track and tennis facility that would now be used if weather forced a move indoors.) We have also had some remarkably rainy reunions. This year, we had lots of rain on Thursday and Friday, but Saturday was lovely for our parade, outdoor meeting, and evening illumination of campus.

Some people still confuse weather and climate, though, which is very frustrating. Yesterday, I posted about the US and the Paris climate agreement.  I have written a lot about climate over the years, which grew out of being a New York fracktivist. I and millions of other US climate activists will continue to do our part in accomplishing our country’s climate commitments and supporting other countries as they implement their own goals.

We need to protect our planet and people from the worst ravages of climate change and from one of its components, an increase in severe weather.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “whether/weather.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/06/02/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-317/

 

The US and climate

I did not want to have to write this post.

I listened with dismay to DT’s Rose Garden address yesterday, astonished at the level of misunderstanding of climate science, domestic and international economics, and the Paris climate agreement in evidence.

While the president made it seem that the United States is immediately leaving the Paris accord, that is not the case. There is a three year period starting in November, 2016 during which no signatory may exit the agreement. The one-year period in which the separation would occur can’t start until then, so the earliest date that the United States could officially leave would be Nov. 4, 2020, the day after our next presidential election. A lot can happen in three and a half years and my hope is that the United States will never officially withdraw from the Paris agreement.

Even without the federal government’s leadership, many of the states, cities, companies, and individuals in the US will be continuing reductions in carbon emissions and promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Over sixty mayors of large cities declared their intention to follow the climate agreement. The governors of New York, California, and Washington have started an initiative for states to continue working on their clean energy goals. Many companies, large and small, are committed to renewable energy sources for their operations. Many families, like mine, are weatherizing their homes, using energy efficient appliances and lighting, buying solar panels, and driving hybrid or all-electric vehicles like our Chevy Bolt.

The majority of the people of the United States believe in the Paris accord and will continue to work alongside the nations of the world to combat climate change. I hope we will soon return to official federal-level participation. It would not be the first time that the administration has had to backpedal after an unwise decision.

Earth Day

Another in the string of catch-up posts from this spring…

Earth Day was remarkable for us here in New York State for two reasons this year.

First, the vast majority of the countries of the world signed the Paris climate agreement that day at United Nations headquarters in New York City. Of course, this was a remarkable event for the whole world and we all hope that we finally have the political will to follow through on what the science tells us we must do to avert the most catastrophic consequences of global warming while assisting people everywhere to adapt to the effects that are unavoidable and already underway.

Second, just days before a final deadline, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation rejected the water quality certificate application that would have permitted the construction of the Constitution methane pipeline.

Those of us in the environmental community have been battling against the further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure as part of the fight against global warming. Building pipelines for fossil fuels is akin to building whaling ships as whale oil was being displaced by other lighting sources. It doesn’t make sense to prop up a dying technology.

Unfortunately, the decision in New York came too late to save forests in a 22-mile swath of Pennsylvania, where some land was taken by eminent domain and cleared despite the owners’ objection and the fact that the whole project did not have all the permits needed to move forward. We were especially heartbroken for the Holleran family, who lost the majority of their producing sugar maples.

The pipeline company is trying to challenge the DEC’s decision in court. I sincerely hope that the court upholds the DEC’s action to protect our environment and health.

Onward from COP21

I have been reading about and reflecting on the climate accord resulting from the recent COP21 talks in Paris. Over 190 countries, nearly the entire world, has signed on to cut greenhouse gases to try to keep global warming under two degrees Celsius, with hopes that the limit can be lowered to 1.5 degrees, which will likely keep low-lying island nations habitable.

While much has been made of the fact that the combined pledges of the countries will not keep warming under two degrees, I have hope because every country will have to publicly state their progress and will have to update their goals every five years. As President Obama and others have pointed out, five years ago no one was predicting that the price of solar panels would come down so rapidly and that their use would increase so dramatically, so it is likely that innovations, technology access, efficiency gains, and economics will combine to help countries make their goals more ambitious over time, so that the 1.5 degree goal can be achieved.

Further, the accord adds incentive to preserving and restoring plants that can take up more carbon dioxide to help restore a better carbon budget, which is needed to eventually stabilize the climate. Global temperature is already almost one degree Celsius higher than it was in the pre-industrial age, and we are feeling the effects in global temperatures, increased severe weather and droughts, melting glaciers and permafrost, and ocean temperature rise and acidifcation.

While I wish that there had been more emphasis on climate justice and the rights of the economically disadvantaged, as Pope Francis writes about so eloquently in Laudato Si’,  I hope that other United Nations documents will be taken into account along with the climate agreement to help protect and improve the lives of those living in poverty and those whose homes and food supplies are threatened by climate disruption.

While some Republicans have said that they will not honor the commitments that the United States has made to reduce its carbon emissions if a Republican is elected to the presidency next year, I think that they are mistaken. The omnibus budget bill just passed by Congress allocates funds toward our commitments.  The US has already achieved 10 of its 26-28% reduction target from 2005 emission levels, with ten years to add the further 16-18%. Rules that are already in place for further emission cuts would be very difficult to rescind.

Perhaps most importantly to Republicans, many major businesses have made public commitments to emissions cuts, renewable energy utilization, efficiency gains, etc.; they appreciate the predictability that this international agreement brings. Furthermore, because so many US companies operate internationally, they will be dealing with other countries’ goals and methods, including various carbon pricing mechanisms.  Cutting carbon emissions is a good business practice and the Republicans will have to realize that refusing to cooperate with the international community on the COP21 agreement will hurt not only US credibility and leadership but also its businesses and economy.

Climate and social justice advocates throughout the world are energized to keep the momentum going. People everywhere are keeping vigil and make changes in their own lives to help, as Pope Francis terms it, “care for our common home.”

 

One-Liner Wednesday: solutions

“Given the complexity of the ecological crisis and its multiple causes, we need to realize that the solutions will not emerge from just one way of interpreting and transforming reality.”
— Pope Francis, Laudato Si’ paragraph 63
(This dynamic was in evidence in the final accord in Paris, where each country makes its own commitment. Let’s hope that these national plans will become more and more ambitious so that the climate can remain livable for everyone.)

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays!  Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/12/16/one-liner-wednesday-on-taking-a-joke/

Climate Rally!

As you may know, the climate talks in Paris have reached their halfway point.

To support their efforts, last week there were climate rallies and marches around the world. I attend one in Binghamton NY.  We shared our thoughts about climate change and headed outdoors for photos:
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A group photo which was sent to 350.org
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A close-up with yours truly in the lower left corner

And a link to us learning and singing a climate song:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s__Ba9saX7E&feature=youtu.be

The COP21 talks continue to be on my mind. I hope and pray for an accord that will have the world united in rapidly reducing carbon emissions while sharing resources to conserve energy and ramp up renewables and offering assistance to those most affected by climate change, including those living in poverty, those in low-lying areas, and those impacted by drought, severe storms, and other problems brought on by global warming.