A New Gas Tank and Central Resonator

I settled into my seat at the mechanic’s waiting room, excited to be productive during a long repair. I brought my laptop and books, including Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed – a sci-fi story about an anarchist, egalitarian planet and a neighboring classist, non-democratic one.  A women sitting near me in the waiting room explained that she needed to turn on the waiting room TV. She was anxious to get information about a nuclear plant accident that happened that morning in France.

To [Shevek], a thinking man’s job was not to deny one reality at the expense of the other, but to include and connect.

I shared the coincidence that today was the start of the 3-day court case, Entergy vs. State of Vermont. Entergy, which owns the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant about 10 miles from where we were sitting, is suing Vermont, because the State says it has the right to deny the nuclear power plant from running after 2012, when its operating license ends. Entergy says the State doesn’t have the power to prevent a plant from operating. Only the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can say if a plant can renew its license, and the NRC always say YES.

You can’t crush ideas by suppressing them. You can only crush ideas by ignoring them. By refusing the think, refusing to change.

Before you knew it, three of us sitting in the waiting room were discussing the dangers of Vermont Yankee, how the news doesn’t report local environmental problems or even Japan’s nuclear problems any more -and still barely any mention of the French plant accident. We talked about media ownership, how there really needs to be a clear plan for new jobs if/ when the nuclear plant is closed. How should our region and country produce its energy anyway? How much energy do we need?

We [on Anarres] have nothing…but each other. Here [on Urras] you see the jewels, there we see the eyes. And in the eyes you see the splendor, the splendor of the human spirit.

How exciting, how rare to talk real issues with strangers at a car repair shop waiting room!  I am reminded that I need these conversations to engage with these energy issues, to stay connected to the questions. The questions we ask together are points of entry, and I feel the possibility of collecting the information I need to make informed opinions and proposals.

Because our women and men are free –possessing nothing they are free. And you the possessors are possessed.  You are all in jail. Each alone, solitary, with a heap of what he owns. You live in prison, die in prison. It is all I can see in your eyes –the wall, the wall! 

One woman leaves, wishes us well. I ask for the name of the other woman who still sits in the waiting room, wondering to myself whether we could launch well-facilitated dialogues about climate change and energy in our region.

The woman has mentioned Navajo reservations once or twice. She tells me she writes books and a blog about Native American adoption –a historical approach. She is fairly new to Greenfield and finds people here to be smart. I imagine contacting her.

A few days later my neighbor Sarah is over and talking about her experiences getting arrested in D.C. protesting the Tar Sands pipeline. The organizing around that issue (building a perilous pipeline to transport oil down from Canada and across the U.S., having already harmed First Nation communities at the drilling sites) has been exemplary. Sarah and her partner Woody, looking for a way to keep engaging with climate and energy issues close to home, went to several vigils and protests about the trial between Entergy and the State of Vermont.  The morning the trial started Woody said the streets were lined with people supporting Vermont’s right to close the nuclear plant.

“The saint is never busy.” –Odo  

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