Rituals of Readiness

I spin the globe that sits by my desk. All of my life I have lived in the north. I was born and raised in southern Minnesota at 43.6666 degrees N. latitude and over the years have migrated up to my current location of 48.0095 degrees N. latitude. (The 49th parallel is the boundary between the U.S. and Canada.)

Living in the north requires big attention during the shift from autumn to winter. Before the chill, important rituals of readiness for gardens, yards, and homes need tending. There are no precise dates for these rituals, only approximate guidelines that require me to pay attention during the darkening days of late fall. I love the challenge of being alert enough to track and respond to these changes. How I tend the third of an acre in my care provides much of the foundation for my sense of earth stewardship.

Here in the maritime climate of Whidbey Island, Washington the biggest sign of seasonal change is the return of the rains, coupled with cooling temperatures. Squash plants in the garden just give up—turn yellow and refuse to put any more energy into growing larger. Ritual #1—harvest the garden before things rot. Leave a few plants that prefer late fall.

Carrots in this climate will sweeten and lengthen well into December.






Kale provides another delicious harvest into December.






Because we get such heavy rains in the winter, it is important to plant a cover crop to return nutrients to the soil and to protect the soil from compaction. Ritual #2—plant the cover crop and, of course, the garlic! I love garlic. I plant the cloves from the biggest and best of the previous year’s harvest and green shoots begin to come out of the ground in January, just when I’ve given up all hope of spring returning.

Cover crop of winter rye, crimson clover, and Austrian winter peas planted  mid-October after squash is harvested.

Recently planted cover crop carefully protected from the birds until it germinates.


In the Pacific Northwest the biggest and most widespread trees are conifers. We are lucky enough to live next to a guardian Douglas fir tree. Stewarding this huge tree in our backyard requires periodic pruning by an arborist and many, many sessions of blowing needles off the roof and out of the gutters as the winter winds blow. Ritual #3—Clean up after the trees.


Ann blowing fir needles off her roof. photo by Christina Baldwin









As I make my way through my “outdoor TO DO list,” I find myself both focused down on specific tasks, and lifted up to notice the beauty and shifts around me. The red maple leaves are gone, but the birches shimmer yellow in the rain. The mountaintops lie under heavy clouds, then reveal their new snow cover. Rain forecasts for days also bring rainbows and pockets of momentary sun. The fourth and final ritual is the most important. Ritual #4—appreciate the beauty of the season.

Birds migrate through. Rabbits spend more time in their warrens. Chipmunks are virtually invisible. Deer bed in the pockets of undisturbed woods around our home. Evergreen plants and trees carry out their photosynthesis throughout the winter. Time to take a stroll in the State Park near our home as rains revive the mosses. Then home to split wood, light a fire in the stove, have a cup of tea and just be amazed. Ready: plants, animals, and me.

Young buck grazing in the front yard.


Cup of tea and a candle while I watch the garden from the dryness of inside.










Me with one of our State Park old growth Douglas Fir trees. Photo by Margaret J. Wheatley.













Post script: Thanks to my father, Frank M. Brown, who taught me many of these skills. He passed away four years ago this month.

2012. My father at the beloved Colorado ranch where our family gathered every summer for 50 years.



The Perspective of Time

Three ridge top passage tombs at Carrowkeel

The ridge top wind is ripping at my rain gear, frequently knocking me off balance. Rain is blowing sideways. Ahead is a small opening into the heart of an ancient rock tomb. I bend over and make my way inside.

First one step, then the next. Quiet. Neither wind nor rain can penetrate here. My eyes slowly adjust to the dim light. Ten steps ahead the passage ends in a chamber. I stand upright and look around.

Inside carrowkeel tomb. Note the construction: large flat slabs held in place with small rocks

Upright flat stones taller than I serve as pillars holding a ceiling of carefully staggered, huge flat stones. Each of the flat stones is leveled by fist-sized rocks. There are three tiny alcoves off the central standing area, each with their own pillars and ceilings. The construction is completely stunning.

Sign at the trailhead to Carrowkeel

This is one of the megalithic passage tombs in the Irish county of Sligo. It was constructed by human hands over 5,000 years ago. Questions flood into my mind—How did they get these massive stones up to the top of this mountain? Where did they learn this intricate construction? Why did they go to so much trouble to make them?

Scene along the hike up to Carrowkeel tomb—perhaps a small rock shrine, long ago covered by vegetation.

And then the questions drop away. I simply stand in awe. I feel so safe, so connected to myself, to things far greater than myself. My imagination goes back in time to the era of early farmers that constructed this tomb. These people worshipped nature. There was no doubt in their minds that their lives depended on the rising of the sun, the cycles of the season, the movement of the moon. This tomb at Carrowkeel is an incredible tribute to the early efforts of my ancestors to make sense of the world around them. They needed nature and they knew they were a part of nature.

Christina waiting outside the passage tomb in wind and rain. Notice the window AND the passage. Window is oriented to let in light on the morning of Oct. 31, the beginning of winter.

My reverie ends because steadily increasing winds urge Christina on the outside of the tomb to get us off the mountain top while it is still safe to do so. Indeed, at several points climbing down through the fields of heather Christina, our friend, Marcia, and I literally grab one another in particularly strong gusts.

As I am hiking down, I feel at the very edge of safety and our capacity. And that is a good thing. To find and enter the tomb has been a quest, not a stroll on a sunny day. Being wind-whipped and rain-washed helped me enter the passage tomb with the reverence it deserves.

Two lane track that begins the hike up to Carrowkeel.

During our exploration of Ireland, we visited three of the four large megalithic passage tombs from the Neolithic Era. (A megalith is a “large stone” used for a structure without mortar or concrete. Neolithic Era is the last part of the Stone Age when farming began.)

Two other Megalithic Irish Passage Tombs: New Grange and Carrowmore

Carrowmore passage tomb covered with stones. Entrance is aligned with far mountain range so light enters on Oct. 31. Located in county Sligo

The immense passage tomb at New Grange near Dublin, county Heath



Reconstructed entrance to New Grange with light box and passage doorway facing to allow light in on the morning of winter solstice.

Carrowmore, also in county Sligo, had wonderful interpretation that helped us understand the detail, magnitude, and history of these passage tombs. New Grange in County Meath near Dublin, a UNESCO world heritage site, was by far the largest and most heavily interpreted place we visited. New Grange also has the stunning feature of a tour into the twenty-foot long passage that includes a moment of lights out and a re-creation of light entering the box above the tomb door on winter solstice morning.

But it was Carrowkeel on the wild edge, accessed via a long and winding walk, that most captured the spirit of these tombs for me. I take myself back there often. It reminds me of a time when we humans were humble, respectful, and curious about our place in the cosmos. All three of those attributes are crucial to our lives on Planet Earth at this time. We must not forget.













A Scholarship for Paramedics

The world is full of news about natural disasters as we in the northern hemisphere make the turn from summer to fall—Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas, Hurricane Irma hitting the Caribbean Islands and Florida, wildfires all over the western United States, and then a huge earthquake in Mexico.

These disasters are profoundly served by emergency medical professionals—in my eyes the true modern day heroes.

photo by Houston Chronicle—emergency personnel help residents and their pets from a boat after being evacuated from their apartments.

This weekend also marks another cycle of the Brian Schimpf memorial scholarship. When Brian died unexpectedly in November 2013 of complications from a line of duty accident, we, his devastated family, decided to establish a scholarship in his name for students accepted into the Denver Health Paramedic School.

To date we have been able to give seven young people one-third of their tuition for either the 9 month or 12 month training programs. Each of the candidates writes an essay about why they are choosing this line of profession and includes documentation of need.

Five fine applicants have just submitted their forms for this year’s 12- month program. In the next few days a committee made up of Brian’s father, a Denver paramedic friend, and a childhood friend will review these heartfelt applications and chose one or two of them for awards.

The applications are inspirational. This year’s application includes a young man who is supporting his sister’s dreams to become an actress while supporting himself on the meager salary of an emergency medical technician (a level of training below paramedic). Another year a young father was determined not to put his family too far behind financially.

Paramedics do not make a lot of money. These young people are doing this because it is exciting, exacting work that enables them to help their fellow human beings. We desperately need their skill and devotion. It is an honor to be able to help them, even a little bit.

Brian was an instructor in this school. As the flyer from Denver Health Foundation below indicates, he won numerous awards in his too short career. Donations are completely tax deductible and can be mailed to: Robin Engleberg,

Denver Health Foundation, Program Manager

655 Broadway, Suite 750

Denver, Colorado 80203

mail code 0111

When you read all of the stories about accidents and natural disasters, remember to pause and give gratitude for all the emergency workers who quite literally are putting their lives on the line to help us out.

Notice from recent Denver Health Foundation newsletter


Climbing the Big Tree

“Do you want to go higher?” came the question from the dusky shadows below.

Our 12-year-old grandson, Jaden, and I looked down the deeply furrowed bark of the immense Douglas fir tree towards our guide and the source of the question. We two were about 85 feet up in the air, resting in our climbing harnesses tethered about half way up a 250-year old Douglas fir tree. Jaden looked from the guide back at me. I knew he was looking for reassurance.


An old growth Douglas fir tree carefully rigged for climbing

“What do you think, buddy?” I asked. (Christina was lower down on the tree with the guide and not close enough to be in this pivotal conversation.)

“Well, we have climbed pretty high,” Jaden offered.

Jaden climbing up to his high spot

It is sunset. All of the tree trunks in the forest around us are aglow with the orange/yellow light from the setting sun. Jaden and I have been talking about the remarkable size of all the trees and trying to figure out what other creatures might have gotten as high up in the tree as we had. We can no longer clearly see the forest floor.

“Jaden, you have done an awesome job of climbing this high. If you want to go higher, I will go with you. And this is also a good goal in itself.”

“OK, I’m done,” he said quietly to me.

“I’ll stay until dark, if you want,” encouraged the eager young guide from below.

“No, we’re sure we are done,” I called down.

This was the moment Christina, Jaden, and I had talked about earlier in the day. “There will come a time, Jaden, when you will need to decide you have gone high enough to feel that you have overcome your fear of heights. Keep the experience positive for yourself and remember the big tree will hold all of us safely,” Christina and I had told Jaden.

Guide (left), Jaden (right), Christina resting in her harness

After the decision-making moment, the young guide skillfully ascended to our level using the strength of his legs in the stirrups below his harness in combination with his hands on the ascender mechanisms. He complimented us on our climb and carefully changed out our “ascender climbing gear” to a “belay mechanism”. We began the much quicker journey down the tree, joining Christina and heading to the tree’s base together.

Initial instruction and fitting of gear: our guide, Christina, Jaden

Once unharnessed, we four began the 15-minute walk through the slowy darkening forest back to our car near the Deception Pass Bridge on Whidbey Island’s north end. The sky kept morphing from orange gold to bright pink to fading magenta. As we walked, our young guide explained that there are very few old growth trees rigged for recreational climbing. “I think only about .001% of the population has ever climbed an old growth tree.”

View of Deception Pass Bridge on our walk back from climbing the tree

“It is harder than I thought it would be,” I said. “It takes a lot of arm and leg strength and coordination.”

“Well, you and Christina are the oldest clients we’ve had this summer,” said the young guide respectfully. That certainly made us feel good— probably elevated our status as Jaden’s adventuring Nature Grannies.

But the really important thing is that we each reached our goals of pushing past some fears and had the stunning experience of being held by one of these remarkable trees. I was changed by that experience—my molecules reordered and realigned, my heart once again beating in sync with life’s simple, steadfast pulse.

Christina, Jaden, and Ann after the climb

Community Sit Spots

My last blog was about the benefit of establishing a Sit Spot in nature. If there is personal benefit from having your own Sit Spot, what could be accomplished by Community Sit Spots?

Whidbey Island Audubon Society with support from the Island County Marine Resources Committee has sent 40-60 volunteers out to island beaches for one hour of Sit Spot activity every week from mid June to mid August for the past thirteen summers.

Nesting pigeon guillemots are the main focus of the volunteer’s Sit Spot observations. About a thousand of these dark brown, 13-inch sea birds with white wing patches and bright red feet nest on the high cliffs of Whidbey Island.


pigeon guillemots on rock, photo by Ted Keefe

These little birds are just plain fun to watch. Because their feet are set far back on their bodies, they can swim quickly underwater to catch prey. However, that makes them “out of balance” for water landings. They appear to crash into the water rather than land on it. Yet, with fish in their beaks, they somehow manage to fly into small cliff holes to feed their little chicks.

a “bazaar” of pigeon guillemots, photo by Ted Keefe

Their presence on Whidbey Island is a good indicator of healthy coastal waters—i.e. the availability of good forage fish like gunnels, cod, and sculpin. They are mysterious little birds. When the chicks are ready to leave their burrows (usually at night), they literally jump off their cliffs and walk into the sea ready to care for themselves.

A pair of adult pigeon guillemots on the ledge outside their burrow, photo by Ted Keefe

We don’t know much about where our local pigeon guillemots (PGs) disperse after their nesting season ends in late August. However, we do know that all PGs feed on benthic or bottom dwelling fish, so they can never live too far from the shallower waters close to land. We believe our PGs disperse throughout Puget Sound and Washington coastal waters.

What does it look like to be a PG observer? On a recent July day I joined two team members and headed down to our assigned beach. We had our camp chairs set up by 7:35 a.m. and sat perched with binoculars for one hour of watching PGs fly in and out of their cliff holes—writing down the exact minute each VB (visit to burrow) or FB (fish to burrow) occurs. This data is entered electronically and coordinated by several of our local Audubon members.

Ann watching cliff face on a cold July 4 morning, photo by Christina Baldwin

Malmo Bluff cliff face that Ann is watching, photo by Ann Linnea












While we are watching PGs, we also see eagles soar by and great blue herons fish on the shoreline. We hear osprey calling their prideful boasts of recently caught fish. On windless mornings the sweet murmurings of PGs gathering next to the shoreline fill the air. All the while, goldfinches are darting in and out of shoreline vegetation gathering seeds. Everywhere Nature is in full summer swing!

What a radical thing to do! Pause. Observe. Appreciate. Reflect on the wonder of Nature’s miraculous ways—contributing to the work of citizen science.

Sit Spot

The idea is simple, really. Plunk yourself down someplace outdoors and sit still for 15 minutes—no electronic devices, no books, just your eyes, ears, and sense of smell wide open. What do you observe?

On Mother’s Day I was making a call to my dear 90-year-old mother while sitting indoors near our front picture window. It was early morning, chilly and overcast. While talking with Mom, I noticed the little junco leave its nest on our front porch.

Our front porch with nest in pot on right side of the front door. Photo by Ann Linnea

Sign warning visitors to use the back door.
photo by Ann Linnea

Ten minutes later, still deep in my conversation with Mom, I noticed the junco return with an insect in its beak. The four blue, speckled eggs had hatched, on Mother’s Day, no less!

Four junco eggs in the nest at our front door.
Photo by Christina Baldwin

After finishing my call with Mom, I began my Sit Spot exercise. I actually could not go outdoors because there was no place to sit without interfering with the junco mother and father’s 10 minute feeding interludes. For nearly an hour I watched the faithful parents in their routine. Every day since then I have spent a lot of time at my Sit Spot.

Adult black-headed junco delivering a small grub to her nest concealed in the flower pot. Photo by Ann Linnea


Baby juncos.. Photo taken by Christina Baldwin immediately after the parent junco went to get more food.

 My indoor Sit Spot is close to home; nature is present; I am alone and safe; my attitude is one of curiosity and openness, but I am sitting indoors. (So, humble apologies to Jon Young, author of What the Robin Knows, whose description of a sit spot very definitely intended a Sit Spot to be outdoors.)

A Sit Spot reaps the greatest rewards if you revisit your spot on a regular basis—i.e. become an expert on the comings and goings on your little piece of earth.

First baby junco to fly from the next and wander the front porch. Photo by Ann Linnea

By watching the junco nest from first hatch to fledging these past 12 days, I have been stunned and amazed at the rapid growth of these little birds. And I am really, really impressed with mama and papa junco who never, ever fly straight into the nest. They zigzag from nearby post to bush looking carefully for the presence of any predator and then dart in, feed their completely silent little charges, and head back out for more food.

Now that the fourth and final young junco has left the nest, I have no way of tracking how the parents keep feeding their young or if marauding crows capture and eat one of the young. However, just two days after the final baby fledged I was reaching for the garden hose and one of the babies ran deeper into a bush, peeping all the way.

I have gained deepest respect for the diligence of junco parents and am reminded again of the incredible fragility and strength of life.


Youth—Let’s Talk!

It has been my great privilege and joy to spend much of my time these last weeks immersing myself in youthful spontaneity, curiosity, and creativity.

Our grandchildren the rock hoppers, photo by Ann Linnea

First, there was our marvelous, annual time with our dear grandchildren. Jaden (12) and Sasha (6) are city kids with a willingness to follow their grandmothers most anywhere.


Obstruction Pass State Park hike, photo by Sally Schimpf

 This year we decided to take them to Orcas Island for 5 days of exploration based in a cabin with no wifi, tv, or video capabilities.

Shamrock Cabin, North Beach Resort, photo by Sally Schimpf

“This will be good for us,” said their mother, Sally, who accompanied us.

Sally loving a high perch on a sunny day, photo by Ann Linnea

Instead of “down” time being the equivalent of “device” time, we filled those moments with campfires on the beach, playing board games like Apples to Apples, working together to cook in the tiny kitchen, or just talking with one another.

It’s a big experiment stepping into a time that requires more face-to-face interaction. It’s an experiment their grandmothers (and our little dog) are deeply invested in and appreciate very much.

Creek Walking, by Ann Linnea

 Second, my year’s work with a group of local high school students culminated in an outstanding Earth Day assembly that was entirely written, produced, and performed by the students. The principal of South Whidbey High School called it the high school’s “best ever Earth Day”.

My cohort and friend, Julie Glover and I, in front of the Climate Action Project youth

After the 55-minute assembly in the auditorium, the dozen students that had written poems, skits, and songs, came out for a formal bow and their fellow students gave them a standing ovation.

South Whidbey High School Earth Day assembly, photo by Ann Linnea

Click here to see one of the performance pieces (Echo Chambers) featured by our local television company : http://whidbeytv.com. In 5 minutes these three young women effectively tackle one of the biggest issues in the U.S. today—we are not talking to each other!

Third, on April 21, I was a guest speaker (via Skype) in a “Wilderness in American Life” class at Brevard College in Brevard, North Carolina. The young people chose to focus on Standing Rock as an example of a complex environmental issue.

Ann on Skype call with Brevard College youth, photo by Christina Baldwin

A mixture of junior and senior college students had many questions for me: Why do you think Standing Rock garnered so much attention? Why did you choose to go? What did you learn? What are some of the stories that were most meaningful to you? Why did the veterans choose to make a presence?

These students are talking to one another. They are talking to their professor. They are talking to guest lecturers in thoughtful, respective ways.

In the last month I have had pretty in-depth interactions with about three-dozen young people ranging in age from 6 to 21. Not a huge sampling, but an inspiring one. Can’t generalize to “all youth”, but can report that my thoughts and actions have been influenced and inspired.

Strongly recommend a dose of youthful interaction to anyone!

Grandma watching her kids at sunset on Orcas Island, photo by Sally Schimpf

Tiny, Ubiquitous Treasures

Big fast-moving things grab our attention: eagles, wolves, and cougars. But we miss much by overlooking tiny, stationary creatures around us.

The creatures I write about are everywhere—all habitats on all seven continents. And they have been with us since life first emerged from the oceans onto land.

They can lie dormant for over 40 years waiting for one drop of water and they are capable of that most miraculous of life processes: photosynthesis.

They contain no vascular tissue, no roots or leaves or stems, but mosses merit careful attention. On a cool Sunday morning deep in the Whidbey Institute woods twenty of us followed bryologist, Miles Berkey, around for two hours peering at these tiny treasures.

From Berkey’s website: http://www.knowingmoss.com we get a definition of mosses: “The small little green fuzzy stuff that grows on logs, rocks, in our lawns and on our roofs. This term can accidentally incorporate such things as lichens, algae, and other small vascular plants. . . The taxonomic name for moss is bryophyte, which when used, carries a greater accuracy, pertaining to all non-vascular land plants.”

The trip was sponsored by our local Whidbey Camano Land Trust, http://www.wclt.org, a remarkable organization that helps those of us living on the island preserve unique habitats through donations and work parties. And on days like this, they offer us an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of where we live.

Without further words, I share my enthusiasm through photos. One photo in particular is noteworthy—the final one. It was taken by my friend Whidbey Institute fellow, Larry Daloz, a fine bryologist in his own right.

The equipment needed for moss-peering, a hand lens

Ann looking through a hand lens at moss growing on an alder tree, photo by WCLT 

This is what Ann is looking at—Moss fruiting bodies











A stair step moss—each level represents one year’s growth



An “upright” tree moss with its miniature crown











Larry Daloz photo: Awned Hair cap (Politrichum pilfirum). Red cups are “splash cups” that host the sperm-producing antheridia. When it rains, they are splashed out to fertilize female archegonia. In this case the water had frozen and was in the process of melting.”






Remember Beauty

In this time of fast-moving changes, dire predictions for the earth and ocean’s future, and political infighting that is, at best, unsettling, let us look to nature and poetry for reassurance.

William Wordsworth lived from 1770-1850, in far different times from ours. Yet, the first lines of one of his most famous poems is perfect for these times:

The World is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;

The winds that will be howling at all hours,

And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;

For this, for everything, we are out of tune;

It moves us not . . .

When it became clear to me in February that Standing Rock would enter the phase of closing down the main camp and transitioning to an as of yet unknown new phase, I knew it was time to head to the snowy mountains and re-gain some perspective.

Ann cross-country skiing, photo by Carl Hoerger


Lots of snow in the mountains this year, photo by Ann Linnea










So much snow that campground structures have nearly disappeared, photo by Ann Linnea










And what is the perspective I gained . . . Remembering Beauty. It has returned as my daily guidepost. Thank you to long-time friends, Janelle and Carl, who reminded me of the joys of track skiing!

And with that, a little story from the closing days of Standing Rock’s Osceti-Sakowin Camp. During all of January and February a small crew of folks worked diligently to carefully salvage donated food and clothing. They drove it to nearby food banks and thrift stores. They worked in between blizzards. They worked during thaw and mud conditions. They needed more time than the Feb. 22 eviction gave them, but they did a valiant job.

May each of us continue to do our “one piece” of work diligently and carefully.

Ann happy in the snowy world, photo by Carl Hoerger


Take the Long View

Now what do we do?

On January 24, 2017 U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order to commence construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

On December 4, 2016 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer ordered a halt to construction until an Environmental Impact Statement could be completed.

What will happen now? What do those of us who care about protecting treaty lands of the Standing Rock Sioux nation and water quality for people along the Missouri River and stopping proliferation of fossil fuel extraction do?

We pause. We listen to the wisdom coming from the Standing Rock people. We know there are many levels of complexity in this issue. Above all, we do not hysterically respond to yet another dramatic edict from the president’s office that no one is quite sure how it will be implemented.

Yes, there is great cause for concern. There has been great cause for concern every single step of the way on this ill-conceived pipeline to carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to the Gulf of Mexico. A handful of Standing Rock Sioux began their seemingly impossible opposition to this huge project in the spring of 2016. They have held spiritual commitment and peaceful presence and drawn thousands of people from hundreds of native nations all over the world to stand with them.

Photo of Osceti Sakowin camp located in the flood plain of the Cannonball River, photo by Ann Linnea

Photo of Osceti Sakowin camp located on the flood plain of the Cannonball River, photo by Ann Linnea

It has been a long, cold winter at Standing Rock. The blizzard we experienced in early December (see two previous blogs) has been followed by many other blizzards and subzero cold spells. Since December 5, the main Oceti Sakowin Camp on the banks of the Cannonball River has been occupied by several hundred people in winterized teepes, yurts, and RVs. Tribal Chairman David Archambault II has asked that the camp be vacated before spring floods destroy it. A number of tribal activists have chosen to remain to “keep watch” over any activity at the pipeline end near the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. The two groups are not in total agreement, but they are in careful dialogue.

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chair, David Archambault II, Yes magazine photo

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chair, David Archambault II, Yes magazine photo

“The Trump Administration’s politically motivated decision violates the law and the Tribe will take action to fight it,” said Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II. In an interview with the Seattle Times Archambault said the “tribe is considering all its options”.

Meanwhile, crews are reportedly in hotels waiting to get to work. The drill pad for crossing under the river is secured behind multiple barriers with ongoing police presence.

The step now is to write a comment on the Draft EIS. Comment period closes Feb. 20. This is important even if the Army Corps now issues an order to abandon this process. Such an order will be contested in the courts by the Standing Rock Sioux.

 This article in YES magazine contains a very careful, thoughtful analysis of what an EIS is and how to respond to this particular EIS.


Writer Jake Tracy says, “So it’s true. Denial of the pipeline is a long-shot. But if the water protectors at Standing Rock have taught us anything, it’s that with enough public pressure, even a long-shot is possible. So if you’re against the pipeline, this is the time to step up, not back down. As long as the public process is still in play, we should do everything we can to push back. We owe it to those who worked so hard to get us to where we are today.”

 Once again there is a showdown in this remote part of North Dakota.

Once again the situation calls for complete alertness to all possibilities.

Once again we must hold belief that projects done for the short-term gain of a few wealthy people at great cost to the lives and resources of the rest of us can be stopped.

Lawsuits are being pursued. Sacred conversations of intention and negotiation are happening. Drums continue. Singing continues. Weather continues. There are agency personnel working behind the scenes. The vets are organizing to return in support.

My December 2016 trip to Standing Rock reinforced my deep-seated belief that we must always hold the long view.

  • The long view focuses first on protecting the earth’s health and well-being.
  • The long view understands that there will always be challenges.
  • The long view brings together people of differing viewpoints to achieve a vision that is wiser than any one person or point of view can achieve alone.
  • The long view requires a tenacity of spirit, a trust in established processes, and a willingness to step beyond ordinary processes when they are overtaken by those who abuse power.

This is my final blog about my December 2016 trip to Standing Rock.