Folks on the Arkansas/Missouri border are riled up. The target of this Ozark ire is the US Forest Service’s (USFS) management proposal for Butler Hollow and the greater Mark Twain National Forest. The USFS’s idea of restoring glades and reclaiming woodlands initially sounds appealing. Who doesn’t want to turn back the cedar tree invasion? But then there is the aggressive action plan: the boom spraying of herbicides, the commercial logging, and the endless “controlled” burning. (Have you ever seen a cedar burn? They don’t so much burn as violently conflagrate). And the impacting side effects: smoke, erosion, potentially contaminated wells and waterways.
Private property intersperses the Mark Twain. My friend, Caitlyn, lives there on forty acres in a funky off-grid home with her new born and two-year old dynamo, Anton, and her husband, who works at the lumber yard. Her grandparents, Sharon and Dale Becker, also locals, are key in spear-heading the opposition.
On first hearing of the USFS’s proposal in January 2015, my first reaction was “not again.” After all, we had just finished more than a year of battling and defeating SWEPCO’s proposed 345 kV transmission line. I wondered if individuals, including myself, could muster the energy to speak up, stand up and fight again. We have. A little here. A little there. It’s coming together.
The world overflows with injustices, ill-conceived plans and abuses of power. I have one friend who prides herself on “clicking” hundreds of online petitions every week. It’s her way of speaking out. On-line protests and fast-moving twitter feeds have their place. But I’m not sure we can click our way to a healthier environment, peace in the Middle East, or a sane plan for Butler Hollow. Just as we generally can’t text ourselves to more vital relationships and harmonic solutions in our homes.
Building the muscle and skill to speak up for what we cherish takes observation of those who already have this strength and personal practice. I’m still working on it. In the process I’m noticing that infusing self-talk, family conversations, and participation in local community conflicts with commitment to the good, beautiful and true carries a certain regenerating power. A power that gives the endurance and faith to keep on going. A power that comes when activating our inherent human capacity and responsibility to defend and celebrate what the Heart loves.
What are you speaking up for today?