The Black Snake Pot

The blizzard came and I managed to get out right before it struck – my years of living out of a car having taught me that $20 worth of gas can do a lot in a weather emergency. So, while everyone else was running to the store to shelter in place – I turned off the heat and left for a few days. I probably broke even in terms of carbon costs. Down with the Catawba tribe in South Carolina, I visited their cultural center and took the beautiful trail down to the river with the pups, testing their creek water on the way back up (the river bank was too steep to do the river). The results came back pretty clean. The dogs enjoyed the water, too.

The Catawba are known for their coil pottery – a tradition that dates back for centuries as they harvested the clay from the river bank. One artist had designed the most beautiful pot and very cleverly sculpted a black snake around the pot to keep the rodents out. The black snake was invoked using stories with the children to teach them to fear the river, but also used artistically to show its place in the natural world.

We talked about the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, and the next steps that could be taken to raise awareness of the pain that this pipeline causes. The black snake pot could also be a metaphor for pulling our resources together to try to come to terms with what we are and aren’t willing to do for oil. Oil lubricates “the machine” making it easier for everyone to do everything – but with that ease comes fewer jobs because machines can do a lot of the manual labor for people. Our health becomes worse because we get out of shape. The environment and wildlife are hurt, and human cancers and birth defects occur.  In the end, there is job creation (taking care of sick and handicapped people), but are these jobs that we want to create?

There are at least 3 different ways of job creation: 1) motivated by available money, 2) motivated by the need for the work, and 3) motivated by the desire of the individual to do the work. So, how might a pipeline create jobs? 1) oil companies make money off of a natural resource that is in the land 2) This money then trickles down to employees by creating something for them to do in exchange for this money. So, with this strategy, a billionaire could create a lot of jobs with their money simply by creating jobs for people to do in exchange for it. There is no need for oil to create the job. The earth gives when the billionaires won’t.  Ultimately, as I pointed out before, oil creates fewer jobs as defined by criterion 2.

So, personally, I would like to see another couple of buttons on the tanks at the gas station – new grades of fuel that have the disclaimers: “Fuel obtained and processed in a manner approved by the Native American Tribal Council” and “Fuel obtained without hydraulic fracturing.”

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