The Beloved Boundary Waters And The Battle Against Pollution

The Beloved Boundary Waters And The Battle Against Pollution

How one powerhouse mining company is threatening Minnesota's treasured area.
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If you're from Minnesota, you've either heard of the Boundary Waters or you've visited this immaculate area. Its 1 million acres contains 20 percent of all the freshwater in the entire National Forest System. "Up North," Minnesota captured my adoration as a little girl, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. However, this beautiful area is now threatened by the tempting act of mining.

This tranquil area feels like more than home. It's where the roots of my family's history stem from. It's what being a Minnesotan is all about. It's fishing along the North Shore, laughing with family and friends. It's the smell of burning wood while roasting marshmallows above the crackling campfire. It's my father shushing us children so we can hear the secret call of the loons at night. I can practically smell the fresh pine and feel the warmth of the sun radiating off the never-ending waters. There's even something about the name Boundary Waters that reminds me of Minnesota's native mystery and serenity.

Gov. Mark Dayton referred to the area as "Crown jewel in Minnesota." However, just like the rest of the Earth, this captivating area may soon be destroyed due to greed overpowering appreciation: an exhausting and devastating side to humanity. This issue concerns those who call Minnesota home. Unfortunately, that's not stopping powerhouse mining company Twin Metals from pushing for permission to perform toxic sulfide mining in the Boundary Waters, which has been notorious for destroying environments across the United States.

Sulfide mining has a history of catastrophic effects on the environment. This is because sulfuric acid is produced after it rains on sulfuric ore waste, and "sulfuric acid leaches out metals and chemicals from the waste and creates acid mine drainage which: contaminates lakes, rivers, and groundwater, harms human health, fish, wildlife, and damages entire ecosystems."

Whoa. What?

Doesn't that mean...

Destroying everything that is the Boundary Waters?

Yeah. That's right.

Mining companies have been notorious for promising environmentally-friendly methods but fail to keep those promises. In "The Reliability of Predictions in Environmental Impact Statements" by Jim Kuipers, P.E. and Ann Maest, PhD (2006), they sought to compare water-quality predictions made by mining companies to actual water-quality results. They found that "89 percent of mines that have polluted said they would not."

For example, tragedy struck when Gold King Mine in Colorado began to leak contaminated water by the millions of gallons in August 2015. The contaminated water leaked into Colorado's water supply that many people depended on for drinking and agriculture. Matters worsened as the contaminated water traveled to other states including Utah and New Mexico. The mining companies never predicted such damage.

In a state and federal document review of 14 copper sulfide mines by Bonnie Gestring at Earthworks, she found that of the 14 mines, 100 percent, experienced accidental spills. "Examples of recent pipeline spills include a 2012 spill at the 186,000 gallons of sulfuric acid along 2 miles of Chase Creek -- a tributary of the San Francisco River," reported a recent article.

Many states throughout history have had to file damage claims against mining companies. However, oftentimes taxpayers end up paying for the financial costs, while also bearing the cost of ruining their environment. This was the case for the spill in Colorado, where the EPA contractor received $381 million dollars to cover the damage, all from taxpayer dollars.

I'll never forget one day when my professor asked my philosophy class, "What is nature for?" Some students provided answers like, "for us to escape," and "for our entertainment." However, nature is not ours to use, nor ours to destroy. It belongs to all living things. Maybe it's time to readdress this question and ask how we could be serving the Earth. You wouldn't set fire to your home, so why are we allowing greed destroy the only home of humanity?

To read more and to sign the petition to stop the Boundary Waters mining, visit https://www.savetheboundarywaters.org/sign-petition

You can also donate to the protection of the Boundary Waters here: http://www.friends-bwca.org/donate/

Cover Image Credit: http://loonphotos.com/assets1/loonphotos/800_20779/IMG_5540ar101.jpg

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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