Swans Commentary » swans.com March 10, 2008  





by Martin Murie





"I'm not going to lead you to the promised land because someone else will come along and lead you out."
—Eugene Debs


(Swans - March 10, 2008)   Debs was a smart labor man. He ran for the presidency from behind prison bars, got a big vote.

Obama-mania reminds me, as it does Charles Marowitz, of Hitler's rallies.

On a cold morning this week I was jogging on Route 12 when a pickup swung into my lane and stopped and the guy ran down his window and yelled, "Those bastards are gone." I knew who and what he referred to. Little ol' Town of Brandon, after more than a year of struggle, had passed an ordinance against Noble Corporation's industrial wind turbines. Our town has no city; it's mostly backwoods with defunct hay fields going back to forest. There is a "hamlet" named Skerry and near the west border there is a cluster of single-wide trailers with home-built add-ons, and ancient farm buildings. (A town in New York state and New England corresponds to a township in other parts of the nation.) The people who live in Brandon are either from elsewhere, like Alison and me who bought land not too pricey, and old-timers whose lineages go way back to Quebecoise and Vermont immigrants. The population of our town, Brandon, is not much more than 500, probably less than that. There are absentee owners too who spoke loudly at town meetings, about taxes and how Noble, the wind tower corporation, will give us relief from taxes. It's a bribe, that tax relief; maybe even illegal, but nobody to my knowledge, has followed up on that particular thread.

Anyway, to make a long and agonizing story short, it was a degree of solidarity that included old-timers and us newcomers (30-odd years still makes us newcomers), that finally kicked the corporation out. It also took cool leadership by the elected Town Board. We had to rely on a lawyer to draw up the zoning ordinance. Small wind catchers are allowed, in case anyone wants to reduce the family's electric bill.

Lots of time for discussion and letters to the editor of the newspaper at the county seat, ten miles from our town. I hasten to add that each person on the anti-turbine combine had their own motives, covering a wide range of diversity of opinion, but we stuck together for this particular struggle. In the last election for Town Board the anti-turbine contestants were, for the most part, re-elected. We had numerous standing-room-only town meetings, much shouting and hard feelings, but somehow or other nobody's barn got burned down. Noble corporate servants were there too, giving their side of it, truthiness in action. And an election in the midst of it. And then more meetings and we were getting pretty well sick of the whole thing when, at the last town meeting the board, having held in the preceding month an evening for debate, passed the ordinance.

I can only imagine the stress and pressure these people have been under. Yet, threats to their well-being and promises of monetary gain did not sway them from making a difficult decision for the community of Brandon, our North Country in general, and the generations to come.
(Excerpt from Letter to the Editor by Beth Mosher in the Malone Telegram, February 29, 2008.)

This victory against corporate power came into being with a degree of solidarity emerging stronger with each board meeting. Lately these meetings have been on cold, dark, wind-chill nights. Each of us had to take on a leadership role, standing to speak our own minds. One resident emerged as a strong leader, badgering us to come to crucial town meetings. That's grassroots, the real green. Alison and I played only nominal roles; too busy with antiwar protests, though Alison gave an excellent speech at the final debate.

The corporation tried every trick in the book. Some other towns in the county of Franklin have accepted the turbines and they are being erected now. Town of Malone, county seat, the one little city in the entire county, also passed an anti-industrial-turbine ordinance. Another town is holding out. We hope Brandon's example will encourage them. I give one credit to Noble; never did they claim that their huge project would do anything for climate change. It won't, especially in this low-wind region. And now there are health effects being discovered.

Moral? Gene Debs's warning.



[Ed. Martin Murie has a new Web site, Packrat Nest, where readers can find his books and other works. Please, visit it!]


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About the Author

Martin Murie on Swans (with bio).



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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published March 10, 2008