Dealing with adversity

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When times get tough, encourage and support the good, discourage and avoid the bad, and protect the weak and defenseless. Many good deeds done daily are seeds of a culture of life and love. — Bob Waldrop

Bob Waldrop founded the Oklahoma Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, a charity group providing emergency food assistance. They offer community gardening, training for people to grow their own food, and promote buying from local farmers. Óscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, spoke against poverty, social injustice, killings and torture; he was assassinated in 1980.

Today we face many challenges in America. The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 (scam) is a wakeup call to build resilient communities. We are on our own, we have been betrayed by the federal government and the U.S. Congress. Let’s get to work.

Some of the challenges for Eureka Springs are lack of affordable housing and high-wage permanent employment. At the state level, we are facing deforestation, crude oil pipelines, and drug addiction. Arkansans need skills training, access to health care, and emergency response teams to deal with severe weather. FEMA is not coming to help.

Building resilient communities

Each community is unique, with essential qualities that define what it is and what it does. A resilient community adapts to changes without losing its identity. The Eureka Springs ECHO Free Medical Clinic, Farmers’ Market, Sustainable Permaculture Think Tank, Eureka Power & Light, and Eureka’s Community First Bank, are some of our unique resources. Save the Ozarks, Save Butler Hollow, and the groups opposing Diamond, have inspired many people to stand up and take charge.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce’s greeNWAy Initiative provides sustainability expertise and resources with a two-year certification program. More than 33 businesses in the last seven years have been certified by the Chamber. It’s not easy being green, but we have no other choice.

According to the Post Carbon Institute, we need new ways of thinking to respond to four inter-related crises: Ecology, Energy, Economy, and Equality. Let’s look at the Diamond Pipeline, Jobs, and Housing.

Diamond Pipeline

Arkansas is not prepared for crude oil polluting our homes, rivers, and farmland, an ecological crisis in the making. Why not buy crude and natural gas from low-cost sources while we transition to electric vehicles? What is the damage done to the American economy by selling $60 per barrel U.S. crude to China at $40? Pipelines are paid by volume, the number of barrels delivered; pipelines profit simply by pumping crude.

Equal rights for all is fundamental. How is taking private land by force fair play? Diamond used land agents and lawyers (hired guns) to get easement agreements, pretending to have eminent domain. Diamond knows the truth about the Damascus pump station, but is not telling. Posting a tariff with FERC is insufficient evidence that public service is provided. Is Valero buying whatever flows in the line? The FERC notification is like a Beware of the Dog sign. Diamond does not have a guard dog, all they have is a sign.

Re-skills and quality jobs

Quality jobs are driven by demand. Resilient communities reduce consumption by sharing resources and do more with less. Re-jobs include repair, remodel, restore, reclaim, recycle, and other low-carbon alternatives to wasteful purchase-and-discard.

Skills development in a green economy is essential. Plumbers, carpenters, electricians, and other professionals train a new generation of practitioners on-the-job in exchange for their continued labor for a period of time.

Affordable housing

An alternative to energy efficient tiny homes is upgrading existing properties. Bob Waldrop lives in a 1929 bungalow. The attic was insulated to R-50 and the walls to R-33, with a new interior frame 5.5 inches inside of the existing walls. Leaks were sealed using 90 tubes of caulk and 20 cans of foam.

Overcoming adversity

Our ecological footprint, what we take and what we leave, is larger than what the planet can sustainably handle. We are crossing boundaries beyond which life will not survive. The scam is fueling the fire. Let’s work together to deal with the new challenges.

Dr. Luis Contreras