(C. Proxmire, Nov. 13, 2012)
Nine and Woodward is a great place to protest. Over the years Ferndalians have seen Peace Action diligently share calls for peace every Monday night. We’ve seen Women in Black march for world peace, and an Occupy Ferndale protest in solidarity with those in Occupy Detroit. This is in addition to organized events which bring Ferndale people together for various causes, such as the Green Cruise, the Dyke March, and the Memorial Day Parade where the community remembers soldiers whose lives were lost.
Most recently a group of environmentally-conscious people got together to raise awareness about clean energy and to encourage people to vote on Proposal 3, which would have mandated that energy providers in Michigan begin using alternatives to coal. Coal is a depleting natural resource, and other states and countries have begun using solar power and wind as a way to wean themselves from dependence on a fuel that will only continue to be more scarce and expensive.
For the Rally, Hammond got help from her friend Melissa Damaschke and from several groups including Clean Energy Now, Michigan Jobs, and Michigan Energy. The groups gave online assistance while Hammond and Damaschke reached out to friends on Facebook to come out to the rally, which was on Nov. 2.
As the evening passed there were five to 16 people on the corners holding signs. “We were able to talk with passers-by and give out fliers, and the response from drivers was overwhelmingly positive. Many thumbs-up, maybe 2 or 3 negative responses,” Hammond said.
“Proposal 3 was important on a number of levels,” she said. “The most important is the one continually left out: our coal-fired power plants kill Michigan citizens. The American Lung Association’s study says 13,000 Americans are killed each year from particle coal-plant pollution alone. I’m more than willing to pay 1% extra to stop deaths, especially as, going through our electric bills, our rates went up 17% the past 3 years, with nothing more to show for it than longer and more frequent outages and apparently richer shareholders.” She gave other reasons as well:
“Every lake and river in Michigan has a mercury warning, and most of that mercury comes from burning coal. In a state like ours, bordered by water, filled with water, with our lifestyles and memories and vacations built around water, that is a travesty.
“Older coal plants grind up our fish. The Chicago tribune reported that each plant grinds up millions of fish per year, as they take in water for cooling. The heated water, when returned to the Lakes, causes its own problems.
“I’ve personally visited mountaintop removal sites in West Virginia, and they, too, are travesties. We hate the idea, here in Michigan, of our water being removed to tankers and shipped to other parts of the nation. We should be as considerate of the mountains of Appalachia and the plains out west. The people there don’t like their landscape removed any more than we like the idea of ours being removed.
“Fracking looms on our horizon. Each “frack” of each well needs up to 5 MILLION gallons of water. Wonder where that water will have to come from? Look at your favorite Great Lake, your beloved rivers and trout streams, off the end of your cottage’s dock.”
Hammond has lived in Ferndale since 1986. She is an oboe player and teacher, retired military wife, and part-time environmental writer (for Ferndale Friends, the Sierra Club Great Lakes Program blog, and The Activist, a newsletter of SEMG, the South East Michigan Group of the Sierra Club.)
Now that the campaign is over, Hammond says she will continue to be involved, and to encourage others to be mindful of the planet. “I believe step one is to reduce one’s own use. If we don’t want fracking, we need to get up and turn down the thermostat and water heater. We don’t like tar-sands, we can’t fly and we’d better watch our use of oil. I believe alternative energy is inevitable, and fighting against it reminds me of kids who know they have to go to bed but come up with every reason to avoid it. But I’d say do the usual: contact officials, join with a group, use not just less, but way less, and if you can afford it, get your own. We’re in the beginning stages of our own wind system right here in Ferndale. We waited too long.”
To learn more about clean energy in Michigan go to http://www.cleanenergynowmi.org/.
For more environment-related stories go to our Green News Section at https://oaklandcounty115.com/category/green_news/.