October 2015


OG&E has applied to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission
to levy four new tariffs
to residential and business customers
who have solar panels.

The proposed residential TOU tariff (R-TOU-kW) includes a monthly customer charge ($18.00), a demand charge ($2.68/kW), on-peak ($0.173/kWh) and off-peak energy charges ($0.0137/kWh), and fuel charges.

The proposed commercial TOU tariff (COM-TOU-kW) includes a monthly customer charge ($34.75), a demand charge ($3.30/kW), on-peak ($0.1875/kWh) and off-peak energy charges $0.0143/kWh), and fuel charges.

In addition, if the customer generates more solar power
than they use that month,
they will not receive any compensation
for net access. (This is also true of Kay Rural Electric cooperative,
which services Turtle Rock Farm,
where both of our houses have solar panels.)

The Oklahoma legislature made this tariff possible
by passing packaged legislation presented by ALEC
last legislative session. One U.S. utility company,
has already levied demand charges on solar customers.
In that state, solar installations have decreased
by 98 percent. Of course, people have lost jobs as well.

Making the transition from burning fossil fuel,
which causes global warming and climate change,
to alternative fuels is financially painful
for some; many in Oklahoma.
But so was ending slavery.
Both transitions were/are moral imperatives.
This time,
moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy
is about revering life on this planet.

The powerful fossil fuel industry
is going to great lengths
to prevent development of renewable energy.
In Oklahoma, fossil fuel company executives
and university presidents
serve on each others’ boards of directors,
with compensation close to that of the salaries
of the university presidents.
Bloomberg News reported earlier this year
that Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm,
a major donor to OU (and OU President David Boren
sits on the CR board) told an OU dean
that he wanted certain OU scientists dismissed
who were studying the links between
oil and gas activity
and the 400-fold increase in Oklahoma earthquakes.
The state’s top seismologist, Austin Holland,
was called into “a little bit intimidating” meeting
with Hamm in Boren’s office.
This summer Holland left Oklahoma to go to work
as a supervisory geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey
Seismic Lab in Albuquerque, NM.

And this week comes the revelation
from Inside Climate News and the LA Times
that in the 1980’s Exxon scientists told Exxon executives
that climate change is real,
dangerous and caused by fossil fuels.
Exxon’s climate models accurately predicted
the global temperatures that have occurred since.
But Exxon executives publicly cast doubt
that climate change is real, insisted
the planet is cooling, and funded campaigns
to manufacture doubt about climate change
that its own scientists had confirmed as real.

So, Oklahoma,
we invite everyone to participate
in three events this week
that we are participating in.
Monday evening, 5:30-7, there will be
an Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Solar in Oklahoma
outside the Corporation Commission offices,
Jim Thorpe Building, 2101 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City.

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And Thursday evening at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral,
Pat will present the spiritual foundation for environmental care
as one of three panelists during
An Evening of Conversation: Climate Change is Real.
Other panelists are Cimarron Presbytery Stated Clerk Deborah Meinke,
presenting the science,
and Jim Roth, Murrah Law Firm,
talking about what we in Oklahoma can do.
Rev. Tim Luschen, Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, is moderator.
6:30 p.m.
127 NW 7th Street., Oklahoma City.
The event is free and open to the public.

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Wednesday, at 10 a.m., at St. Paul’s Cathedral,
Oklahoma Conference of Churches is holding
a news conference in which,
in advance of the UN Climate Summit
in Paris beginning November 30,
representatives of many faith traditions in Oklahoma
will speak to the necessity of nations to commit
to lowering carbon emissions.

Back at Turtle Rock Farm,
we, who have long lived in—
and yes, benefited from—
an oil and gas field,
are thrilled to welcome a wind farm
that will stretch twenty miles
from Billings to Bressie.
It is our understanding that this wind farm
will supply energy
to the currently coal-fired
Sooner OG&E plant.

 

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Our Latest Newsletter
November 2015
Celebratory Days at Turtle Rock Farm

Have you been watching the evening
and night
sky lately?

20151023_190413Three nights ago, in the west
20151023_190523and in the east
DSCN8450and later
DSCN8451above Turtle Rock Farm.

DSCN8471Last night, above CommonWealth Urban Farm (also, photo below)

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Tonight, Oklahoma,
an even almost fuller moon.
Tomorrow,
the fullest.

The Human Community Network's photo.

I know a group of people
who for the last year or more
have been studying
how to bring about
systemic transformation.
That was an abstraction
for me until they explained
what they mean. (We’ll get to that.)
At the same time,
I’ve been slogging through
Naomi Klein’s incredible book,
This Changes Everything.
It’s a slog because it is heavy
with information
and because it’s so well-developed
there’s a lot to take in. I still
have about half the book to read,
but I’m taking it as I can absorb it;
then I skipped from the middle
to the conclusion. There I found
much to inspire and encourage
and I think the effort my friends
here in Oklahoma City have been making
and are about to introduce
to the wider community
is an example of what Klein
suggests.

Climate change, Klein writes,
could be the “grand push,”
that brings together many people,
many movements for change,
that together
can support change,
right the wrongs
of history. “Climate change
is our chance to right those festering wrongs at last…
the unfinished business of liberation.”
It is possible and will take
“the convergence of diverse constituencies
on a scale previously unknown.”

“…any attempt to rise to the climate challenge will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of worldviews, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect.”

The Human Community Network
is a project in Oklahoma
that seeks to bring groups
together to support each other,
recognize the connections,
the interdependency—
the ways one process affects the others—
and work together using various creative
programs and methods
to educate
and make systemic changes
that encourage
the flourishing of life
for all.
This Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m.
in Room 151 Walker Center,
Oklahoma City University,
you can meet these visionaries
and learn about how you
can engage in this effort
to build The Human Community Network.
I’ll be there and would love to welcome you,
share in this exciting time
as we go forward through
an ecological crisis
toward a sustainable future.
“Fundamentally,” Naomi Klein writes:

the task is to articulate…an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.

This is another lesson from the transformative movements of the past:…they dreamed in public, showed humanity a better version of itself, modeled different values in their own behavior, and in the process liberated the political imagination and rapidly altered the sense of what was possible.

We are at the beginning of our ninth year
at Turtle Rock Farm,
immersed in nature,
leading retreats and workshops
in an effort to help people connect
with the natural world,
of which they are an interdependent part,
and learn sustainability practices.
Now, as we also participate
in the CommonWealth Urban Farm
community in Oklahoma City,
and with Transition OKC,
we are connecting with a growing number
of Oklahomans, by golly,
who are committed to helping create
not only sustainable life,
but flourishing life for all.
The evolution
of our involvement is surprising—
as evolution often is—
and stunningly hopeful.
In many ways
we see not only
a way through the crisis,
together,
but the possibility that we enter
a time of immense change
in understanding,
in perception,
in action
that will benefit
all life on the planet.

More related invitations:
CommonWealth Urban Farms
Neighborhood Potluck at the Garden
is Saturday, October 31,
11:30-1:30 p.m.

Oklahoma City showing
of This Changes Everything,
the movie, is December 1st,
6:30 p.m. AMC Quail Springs Mall.
75 people must reserve tickets
so that the movie can be shown
in Oklahoma City.

We are not foreign
to harvest machinery breaking down.
It is to be expected
every year
during wheat harvest.
But it never dawned on us
that the pecan harvest might
come to a profound halt
due to equipment failure. It did.

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Shaking the first tree of the day

DSCN8297Grands watch their first pecan harvest

Ann’s sons, Brok and Ben,
and their families arrived on Thursday
energized about the celebration
and the good work
that is pecan harvest. Especially
this year, with a bumper crop.
Friday we were in the pecan grove
until nightfall,
shaking trees, collecting pecans in tarps
then hulling and sorting them.
All hands were busy, including three
one-year-olds,
who figured out the hulling
very quickly. We brought home
1200 pounds of pecans on Friday.

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DSCN8313Lunch break
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Brok, making a theatrical plea to end lunch break and get back to work

DSCN8344A day’s harvesting

Saturday, everyone was eager
to get back to the grove. That’s
when it happened: something broke
on the tractor’s PTO apparatus
which runs the shaker. We called
a couple of mechanic-minded friends,
but no one could figure how to fix it.
The tractor had to be hauled to Perry
to be diagnosed on Monday. By then
family will have returned to their homes
in Colorado.

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Leaving the pecans hanging,
we spent two days, hulling and sorting
the pecans from the husks,
the Kansa from the Pawnee.
We moved the operation
from the grove to Ann’s front yard
and enjoyed the conversation,
the work,
the gorgeous autumn weather,
the light on the pond next to us
and, immensely,
each other.
If love makes pecans taste better,
these will be the best.

It’s quite a bird day
here in the city!
Walking at Lake Hefner
this morning,
we watched a Great White Egret
fish,
Mallards swim.

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I happened to look up
and saw a large bird approaching
in the western sky.
I couldn’t identify it…
wasn’t a Turkey Vulture,
wasn’t a hawk, and then,
as it reached us,
not far overhead,
the sunlight set its white
head feathers aglow:
it was a Bald Eagle!
A young one,
smallish, but old enough
to have grown its white feathers.
We were astonished
and in awe.

Back on 32nd Street,
two Chickadees
at the bird feeders—
the first.
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Mockingbird
has come close
in the past. Right up next
to me on the porch,
hanging out there on the nearest Hackberry branch.
Forever in my life
she has captured my attention;
first in the song, “Mockingbird Hill,”
(my mother’s old records
must have introduced me)
and much later,
when we still had such things,
atop a tv antennae
in the spring,
throughout the summer,
carrying on exuberantly
that repertoire
of others’ songs. Back
at the farm these last nine years,
their songs,
are among the sure signs
of spring; and, at midnight,
those times I awake,
welcome company.
Around the farm,
Mockingbirds often fly close
as I walk the prairie,
lighting atop Junipers
along the fence lines. As summer
warms, and they have mated,
they fly and perch silently.
I don’t know why; they seem
to accompany.

Now comes autumn
and for the first time
in my awareness,
Mockingbird is close again,
stopping by the bird bath,
flying treetop to treetop
as I walk in country
and even in the city. And
they are singing. I don’t know
why. One time
I had the notion
that Mockingbird,
could teach me to use
my own voice. I have a tendency
toward the paradoxical, you see.
So I am tempted to wonder
if that is something to consider
again. But then I notice
I have indeed been hanging out there on the limb using my own voice.

Perhaps Mockingbird
is confused by a warm autumn;
perhaps they are mating again.
Or maybe they always have sung
in autumn
and I just now notice. I could
Google…
I’m simply going to be
glad
for the song,
the accompanying,
the voice.

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