Thursday, August 30, 2012

Sean Lennon invokes the rural idyll to protest fracking

Sean Lennon, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and a musician in New York, published an op-ed in the New York Times a few days, "Destroying Precious Land for Gas."  As the title suggests, the piece protests the practice of fracking, and in it Lennon invokes the rural idyll--in particular his associations with the farm his parents bought in Delaware County, New York, before he was born.   Lennon writes of his early memories of the farm and many positive associations there:
My earliest memories there are of skipping stones with my father and drinking unpasteurized milk.  There are bald eagles and majestic pines, honeybees and raspberries.  My mother even planted a ring of white birch trees around the property for protection.  
Lennon serves up more reminiscences--of his first taste of raw milk there, of the ring of white birch trees his mother planted.  Some of his reminiscences relate to how others viewed the farm.  Lennon recalls seldom persuading his "schoolmates to leave Long Island for what seemed to them an unreasonably rural escapade."  Yet, Lennon continues, he was "lucky enough to experience trout fishing instead of tennis lessons, swimming holes instead of swimming pools and campfires instead of cable television."

What great phrasing:  "unreasonably rural escapade."  It makes you wonder if, even in the 1980s and 1990s, "rural" was associated with things "unreasonable" or--at least--dramatically out of the mainstream, especially in the context of uber-urban New York, dominated by the five boroughs.

Later in the piece, Lennon invokes rural-urban interdependence, noting that the water on his family's farm comes from the same watersheds that supply all of the state's reservoirs--including those supplying New York City.  "If our tap water gets dirty," he writes, "so does New York City's."

Lennon goes on to tell of a recent meeting at the high school near the Delaware County farm, a meeting where gas companies were pitching "a plan to tear through our wilderness" to make room for a pipeline associated with hydraulic fracturing.  Lennon says that the organic farmers and others at the meeting were "openly defiant," but their defiance had little impact on the business interests, who "gave us the feeling that whether we liked it or not, they were going to fracture our little town.

The rest of the piece mostly argues against fracking in New York, with lots of scientific information.  But he also invokes his father's memory more explicitly in closing:
My father could have chosen to live anywhere.  I suspect he chose to live here because being a New Yorker is not about class, race or even nationality; it's about loving New York.  
For Sean Lennon, who has with his mother started a group called Artists Against Fracking, that New York clearly extends to the state's more rural reaches.

Nonmetropolitan Delaware County, New York has a population of 47,559.    

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