Come Get Smitten in the Mitten!
Want watch the sunset over an endless body of fresh water on top of a sand dune while you consider the conversations, workshops, and experiences of an Earth First! Rendezvous? This is a possibility as organizing for the 37th Annual Earth First! Round River Rendezvous is currently underway! Folks affiliated with Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands, along with other regional eco-defenders have joined Fen Valley Earth First! to plan for next year’s Rondy. We will continue working hard through July to create space for everyone who attends to have a great experience at the 2016 EF! Rendezvous. As this organizing body contains many new faces to the Earth First! movement, we are seeking to use this as an opportunity to strengthen our movement here and abroad; as well as deepen our connections with each of you and the Great Lakes Basin.
These peninsulas were once widely inhabited by people of the Ojibwe (Chippewa in English), Odawa, and Potowatami nations, or the People of Three Fires. As occupation of European settlers became dominant, the two peninsulas dissolved into the current industrialized State called Michigan; which continues to be populated and controlled by those who refer to each other as Trolls and Yoopers. A myriad of ecological and hydrological catastrophes followed, and have continued to devastate this region over the course of colonization.
As Earth First! continues to find a focus on colonization’s effect on indigenous communities of people, we feel it is also important to understand the ecological effects of colonization. The two peninsulas surrounded by the Great Lakes saw the real and devastating effects of the developing settler culture.
Whether they are marshes, swamps, bogs, or fens – wetlands help control flooding, filter pollutants from water, create atmospheric gases (including oxygen), re-up groundwater supplies, create nutrients, and provide crucial habitats for plants, insects, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals. Prior to European colonization over 11 million acres of wetlands existed within the modern political borders of Michigan. 8 million acres of wetlands have been “lost” through the times of European exploration, settlement, and industrialization. This pattern continues to escalate under capitalism’s need for growth in order to survive. Commercial, industrial, and residential expansions into wetlands have more recently slowed due to government regulation, the work of conservation groups, and the realization that wetlands can benefit the human economy.
Additionally, it is critical that we recognize the industrial impact to the forests. Prior to colonization, Michigan was almost completely covered in forests. A tragic story in the forests began to unfold, as the era of industrialization’s demand for timber grew more and more aggressive. In the 1880’s and 1890’s, (right after the great Chicago Fire)the upper Midwest, and Michigan in particular, became the number one place large clear-cut operations. By the turn of the century the pine forests of the northern Lower Peninsula had been reduced to what is described as “barren waste land”. Economically, the amount of pine harvested from this area was worth more than all of the gold mined in California. After total resource depletion, logging focus turned to the Upper Peninsula for pine, and the southern Lower Peninsula for hardwoods. Mammal populations such as the fisher, the woodland caribou, and the american marten disappeared with the forests. The threats to the forests, waterways, and wetlands continue to evolve with the technology that drives progress.
Development persists. In a sea of concrete, rust, and superfund sites- we seek sanctuary in many small oases that dot our landscape. The lush forests, rivers, and wetlands continue to be ravaged by an escalating pattern of profitable “oopsies” and “now we knows”. These fragmented areas are facing a rapid encroachment of urban/suburban development, as wells as the monocultural Roundup Ready expansion of two massive GMO seed corn operations. The implementation of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing threatens forests down south and the active expansion up north continues despite the copious amount of fresh water this industry exploits. The Great Lakes are lined with outdated nuclear power plants and bisected with a tar sands pipeline– it’s only a matter of time before the beds and shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron resemble the Kalamazoo River in 2010.
With just a brief look at two of the several different types of ecosystems in Michigan, we can easily determine that the culture and economy developed by colonial interests continues to fuck up the land bases in between the Great Lakes.
We encourage you to consider water in the months leading up to the Rendezvous. Access to, contention over, intrinsic rights, and contamination of water will all be recurring topics in and out of workshops. Upon arrival, you will never be more than 6 miles from a body of water, or more than 85 miles from a Great Lake.
We would love to hear from you, contact us and we will continue posting updates and Michigan news here and on the EF! News Wire. We look forward to seeing ya’ll! If you want to get in the Great Lakes spirit before July try jumping in some cold water. Then warm up by making pasties (pronounced past-eees), a savory hand pie that’s localized to northern Michigan. Mix flour, shortening, and a little bit of water to make the crust. For the filling chop up rutabagas, potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, and other roots. If ya like, add some ground venison, preferably road kill. Season the whole mix with salt ‘n pepper. Roll out a circle of crust, put a small handful of filling on one side, fold over, and crimp closed. The pasty should be a little bigger than your hand. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Enjoy with gravy, ketchup, hot sauce, and a strong Michigan accent!
See Ya Soon!
-Fen Valley Earth First!
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