Standing Rock Lives on in Pennsylvania:  Protecting our Land, Water and Communities


From the jungles of the Amazon to the tar sands of Alberta, indigenous people of the Americas are standing up to the fossil fuel empire in defense of Mother Earth. In many languages they are saying, “Respect your Mother. Protect your children.”  These are the common sense principles for the survival of our species.  Yet the majority of our industrialized society fails to live by them. Colonizers started a pattern of disrespect and exploitation on Turtle Island, the native name for North America, which disrupted thousands of years of devoted stewardship by native people.
Today, as we experience catastrophic climate change, there are signs of hope that some communities are awakening to a new relationship with Earth, and with indigenous people. At the Standing Rock encampment in North Dakota, I was among thousands of non-native allies who joined Native American water protectors fighting an advancing oil pipeline in the fall of 2016. Throughout the encampment, banners and t-shirts worn by native teenagers exclaimed, “Defend the Sacred.” I went in service to express my commitment to indigenous rights and gratitude for the Lakota’s brave defense of our common Mother. For many months, multicultural, intergenerational groups of supporters traveled to Standing Rock, where they experienced native values of respect, reciprocity and reverence for the Earth.


Though the pipeline in North Dakota prevailed, the spirit of Standing Rock lives on, calling us to continue the struggle, to act with courage to protect our places throughout the continent for generations to come. 
When I discovered Lancaster Against Pipelines (LAP) on a spring day in 2017, I cried for joy to find the same values I had experienced at Standing Rock: sharing, cooperation, and love-based, non-violent action to protect the water, land and communities of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  My daughter and I attended a gathering at The Stand, a structure built in the path of a 42inch fracked gas pipeline that LAP opposes – one that would tear through woodlands, rich farmland, and creeks, while perpetuating reliance on climate-destroying fossil fuels. At the Stand, I joined the struggle to “Defend the Sacred” in my home state and beyond.
During the summer I made several trips to The Stand, sometimes bringing friends from Philadelphia, to learn about the struggle to stop the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. Williams Partners, the pipeline company, based in Oklahoma, is benefiting from an abuse of eminent domain in which private land in the path of their pipeline is being condemned, not to benefit the public as eminent domain was intended, but rather to increase corporate profits, while bringing desecration and risk to the community.
After civil disobedience training by Greenpeace, in which I participated, LAP organized five actions to block the progression of the pipeline, including on October 9th, when the group formed a 16-vehicle blockade to prevent workers from accessing the drill site. A week later, members gathered around an excavator on property owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, an order of Catholic nuns that built a chapel in the path of the pipeline on property which Williams obtained by eminent domain. That day at the construction site, 23 people were arrested and charged with defiant trespassing, in the name of protecting their land.  In total, 45 people have been arrested since pipeline construction began.
On Saturday, March 10, I’ll be joining the defenders in civil disobedience.  Will you come with me?  There will be options to risk arrest or simply to witness and support the action risk-free. The event will end with a celebration at the chapel on the farmland of the Adorers, who are continuing their freedom-to-practice-religion lawsuit.  They explain, “Our faith impels us to stand up when the beliefs we hold sacred are compromised and our land is exploited by the misuse of power.” 
For some of the defenders, this is the land their families have loved and have cared for since they arrived as settlers in the 18th century. For others, it is the land they have chosen as their home and have taken responsibility to protect. It’s also the land that produces much of the fresh food for the farmstands and markets in Philadelphia.  As stewards of our homeland, it’s our responsibility to fight, too.
Like Standing Rock, there is little chance of stopping a pipeline backed by powerful corporations and politicians, when all legal means have been exhausted.  Nevertheless, it’s imperative that we resist. Our voice and action are needed to demand justice from eminent domain, bring a transition to renewable energy, and force political change in Harrisburg and Washington, so that we can at last take responsibility for the land that gives us life.


This family-friendly event begins at 9:30 on Saturday, March 10, at Trinity Reformed UCC, 450 W. Main Street, Mountville, PA, where there will be a brief rally with coffee and donuts. Bring a bag lunch. Participants will leave cars and board a bus to the action site, and from there to the chapel for the closing celebration.  Transportation back to the cars will be provided. If you are interested in coming, please email me at, for further details and for carpooling options.
If you cannot come on March 10, please consider donating or volunteering at
Lancaster Against Pipelines

We, as local communities, have an inherent right—and duty—to [1] protect the land, water, and air that give us life,
and [2] ensure the health and safety of our residents.
For four years, we’ve opposed Williams’s plans to run a dangerous, fracked gas, export pipeline through the heart of our communities, using every legal means available to us. Yet our system of government, at all levels, has failed to protect us.
• We defy a system of government that tells us we can’t protect ourselves from industrial harms because corporations have been given more “rights” than we who live here.
• We defy the gas industry’s plans to subject our families, communities, and natural environment to catastrophic danger for their own corporate profit.
• We defy FERC’s conclusion that the Atlantic Sunrise Project would have “less-than-significant” impacts on our land, water, and communities. 

• We pledge to protect our water.
• We pledge to protect our preserved farms.
• We pledge to protect our forests and precious wildlife.
• We pledge to protect our sacred Native American heritage and culture.
• We pledge to protect our Amish neighbors who’ve been targeted and harassed.
• We pledge to protect the future of our children, who must live with the consequences of the actions—or inaction—we take today. 

We vow to protect our communities through nonviolent Civil Disobedience if FERC gives Williams Gas Company permission to poison our water, clear-cut our forests, steal our farms, bulldoze our Native heritage, and put our families at risk. Along with our financial and material resources, we pledge to put our bodies between the land we love and those seeking to destroy it. 

Pennsylvania's Standing Rock


The spirit of Standing Rock – the indigenous led movement to protect land, water, and culture from the fossil fuel industry – is spreading across the country and inspiring communities to act. In Pennsylvania, Lancaster Against Pipelines has set up a Standing Rock style encampment called The Stand, where they are preparing for nonviolent mass action to stop the construction of a pipeline from tearing through their beloved farmland, woods and backyards to transport fracked gas for export.

The pipeline company, Williams Partners of Tulsa, Oklahoma is benefiting from an abuse of eminent domain in which private land in the path of their pipeline is being condemned, not to benefit the public as eminent domain was intended, but rather to bring greater profits to an out of state corporation.  

Lancaster Against Pipelines cofounder Malinda Clutterbuck exclaims, "The hardest thing to accept is that large corporations are given permission to devastate our lives and threaten our health and safety for private profits, while we who live here have no say in the process. Eminent domain for private gain is wrong."

This outrageous abuse is happening all over the country.  Rather than defend their own constituents who are crying out for help to protect their communities and environment, many politicians at all levels of government are siding with the fossil fuel executives who fund their campaigns.  Thanks to the Supreme Court decision Citizens United, corporations are free to pour unlimited money into political campaigns, which has created collusion between corporations and government that is threatening our democracy, as well as our safety and well-being now and for the generations to come.  With the lack of enforcement and the removal of regulations that protect the public, corporations are free to increase their profits, while citizens suffer greater poisoning of our air, water and soil. 

The Lakota Sioux at Standing Rock tell of a 1000 year old Lakota prophecy that describes a Black Snake that would one day rise from the deep and move across the land bringing destruction and great sorrow. The Sioux believe that the Black Snake has arrived in the form pipelines and the most powerful economic and political force in the world - the fossil fuel industry.  As the prophecy further warns, if the Earth’s people do not unite to defeat the Black Snake, the world will end.

As we near catastrophic climate change, this could be our last chance, individually and as a nation, to choose life over money, love over fear and join as one people to defeat the Black Snake. 

Lancaster Against Pipelines states:

“ We believe that the American people have a moral obligation to stand up to a system that is rigged in favor of billionaires and big business at the expense of people and planet. When the government is not standing up for our homes, families, and futures, we will stand up for ourselves.”

Thanks to those who joined us one year ago... 

 Philadelphians Stand with Lancaster County
 Saturday, March 25, 2017

Please join us in carpools from Philadelphia to The Stand at 325 Conestoga Blvd, Conestoga, PA, or meet us there a noon for an orientation by leaders of Lancaster Against Pipelines.  We are leaving Philadelphia at 10am, and plan to arrive back home by 4 or 5pm.  We are bringing brown bag lunches and also bringing food supplies to contribute to the kitchen at The Stand. If you plan to attend and would like to join a carpool, please contact me at

Lancaster is the primary breadbasket for Philadelphians who eat local food.  It's in our own interest to support the farmers and protect the land, water and rural communities. And it's our duty to defeat the black snake where ever it appears. If you cannot come on the 25th, please consider donating, volunteering and/or signing the pledge at


Other local pipeline battles against the Black Snake:

Pennsylvania Pipeline Resistance

Concerned Citizens Against the Penn East Pipeline

Middletown Coalition for Community Safety fighting Mariner East 2

Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipeline

Pinelands Pipeline

Groups fighting all area pipelines:

Here are the Core Values of Lancaster Against Pipelines:
• “We the people” hold the power.
• “We the people” includes all of us.
• “We the people” have a moral duty to stand against corporate greed.
• “We the people” will defend our families, the land, the water, and future generations.

Here are the Strategic Principles of Lancaster Against Pipelines:

• Our actions are rooted in our core values.
• Our actions aim to expose a system rigged in favor of billionaires and big business at the expense of people and planet.
• Our actions will involve mass participation whenever possible.
• Our actions will be creative, disciplined, and nonviolent. 

Here is a link to a video about Pennsylvania's Standing Rock:

                            Lancaster Against Pipelines Pledge:


                                           WE STAND WITH THE LAND


We, as local communities, have an inherent right—and duty—to [1] protect the land, water, and air that give us life, and [2] ensure the health and safety of our residents.

For three years, we’ve opposed Williams’s plans to run a dangerous, fracked gas, export pipeline through the heart of our communities, using every legal means available to us. Yet our system of government, at all levels, has failed to protect us. As 2017 begins, our resolve is stronger than ever to protect ourselves and this land by ensuring the Atlantic Sunrise Project never gets built. 


• We defy a system of government that tells us we can’t protect ourselves from industrial harms because corporations have been given more “rights” than we who live here.

• We defy the gas industry’s plans to subject our families, communities, and natural environment to catastrophic danger for their own corporate profit.

• We defy FERC’s conclusion that the Atlantic Sunrise Project would have “less-than-significant” impacts on our land, water, and communities. 


• We pledge to protect our water.

• We pledge to protect our preserved farms.

• We pledge to protect our forests and precious wildlife.

• We pledge to protect our sacred Native American heritage and culture.

• We pledge to protect our Amish neighbors who’ve been targeted and harassed.

• We pledge to protect the future of our children, who must live with the consequences of the actions—or inaction—we take today. 


We vow to protect our communities through nonviolent Civil Disobedience if FERC gives Williams Gas Company permission to poison our water, clear-cut our forests, steal our farms, bulldoze our Native heritage, and put our families at risk. Along with our financial and material resources, we pledge to put our bodies between the land we love and those seeking to destroy it. 


After Standing Rock, Thanksgiving Will Never Be the Same


At the family Thanksgiving table this year, imagine a world where the idealistic dream of Thanksgiving actually exists – where the descendants of settlers and the descendants of those brought here by force sit down with the descendants of Native Americans in the spirit of generosity and abundance, giving thanks for all that our common Mother has provided us.
I experienced a glimpse of such a world last year at Standing Rock when our delegation of travelers from Philadelphia and around the country worked with the native community at the Standing Rock High School to cook and serve dinner for 2,000 Water Protectors. It was our way of expressing gratitude to those who were taking a brave stand against the Black Snake – the oil pipeline advancing across North Dakota and the fossil fuel industry it serves.
Our dinner guests, Native Americans from tribes across the Americas, along with hundreds of non-native allies, had a common mission to stop the construction of an oil pipeline threatening the land, water and sacred sites of the Sioux.  But our commitment and solidarity went beyond one pipeline battle.  There was an unspoken understanding that we had come together in common struggle to defend the sacred – life itself. Our shared meal provided us a moment to give thanks to each other for taking part in this work.
Though for now the Dakota pipeline has succeeded in moving forward, the spirit of Standing Rock has spread to communities across the country where citizens have united to defeat the Black Snake. When I first visited Lancaster Against Pipelines, a community group fighting a fracked gas pipeline in Pennsylvania, I almost cried for joy when I saw that their pledge of commitment contained the same values of cooperation, non-violence and love that I saw demonstrated at Standing Rock. The citizens of Lancaster county are putting their bodies in the path of the pipeline to peacefully protect their communities, farmland, streams and woods.  So far, 45 have been arrested.
As we gather at dinner tables around the country, let us give thanks to Native Americans for leading the resistance to fossil fuel in defense of Mother Earth, as indigenous people are rising up to do in the Amazon, in Africa and around the globe.
In a society where many of us have been taught a “them and us” worldview through a lenses of separation, scarcity, and domination, we give thanks to Native Americans for articulating a vision of the world as an interconnected web of life to which we all belong, and where there is enough for all of us if we share and cooperate.
Let us also give thanks to Native Americans for all the foods on our Thanksgiving table and in our daily diets that were originally cultivated by native people over thousands of years and offered to early settlers, including potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, beans, pumpkin, and cranberry, as well as the domestication of the turkey.
With gratitude, lets make Thanksgiving a time to give back to Native Americans, and to appreciate the water protectors in our own communities.
Here are some ways to express gratitude each year at Thanksgiving time:
1. Help Native Americans buy land to build restorative economies that will sustain their people and inspire their youth.
Here is one example:
A project lead by Winona LaDuke to buy a farm and start growing industrial hemp and heritage vegetables. The minimum for the fund to succeed has been raised, but much more is needed to buy equipment and supplies to get the farm and processing businesses up and running.
More here

2. Legal defense fund for water protectors at Standing Rock
The trials for approximately 400 non-violent, peaceful water protectors are underway.  Please consider contributing here to their defense fund.
More here

3. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit against the Pipeline (DAPL)
Though the pipeline at Standing Rock succeeded in moving forward following Trump approval, the tribe continues its battle in the courts. Earth Justice is representing the tribe in their legal battle, and is also working against oil and gas drilling in many communities. Consider donating to Earth Justice here or here.
4. Legal defense fund for Lancaster Against Pipelines
Help the 45 citizens arrested while peacefully protecting their land and communities in Pennsylvania by contributing to their legal defense fund.
5. Research pipeline battles in your local community and become a water protector.
My blog on our Thanksgiving 2016 trip to Standing Rock, can be found here.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

From "My Way" to Our Way: The Women's March on Washington

What a fitting song Donald Trump chose for his first dance as President of the United States at Friday night’s Inaugural Ball – “My Way.”  Poor Melania didn’t look as if she was having fun.  I expect she might have liked to escape, don a pink pussy hat the next day and join the Women’s March on Washington, where she could be herself – free of heavy-handed fear mongering, lying and attempts to control, divide and conquer.

Traveling by bus to Washington with a group of friends from Philadelphia, I was among the millions marching across the country and around the world last Saturday. Over my 70 years, I have marched for many causes, but this march was different. First of all, where did all those hundreds of thousands of pink knit pussy hats come from?  Women all over the country shared a pattern and knitted those hats. Women who could not march in Washington, sent them to those who could. That's how I got mine. I heard that stores around the country had run out of pink yarn. 

Though the Electoral College handed Trump a victory over the candidate who won the popular vote and should have been our first woman president, Saturday’s march demonstrated that the women of this country have not been, and will never be defeated. The crowd of pink hats representing many generations of women, along with some children and supportive men, was so immense that we filled the entire parade route from the Capital to the White House.  There was no room left to march.

Most media called the crowd at 500,000, but those who counted the crowds in the side streets, who could not get onto the parade route, claimed one million. It certainly seemed that large to us. After hours of making our way through the crowds, joining in chants like, “Welcome to your first day, we will not go away,” and seeing homemade signs like, “Girls just want to have FUNdamental rights,” our group finally caught a glimpse of the giant monitors and heard inspiring speeches by women who represented a rainbow of colors and ethnicities, including Native American, Latina, Muslim, Black and White, and more. Chants broke out: “This is what democracy looks like.”

Despite the pressing crowds, there was no incidence of violence. I never saw pushing nor heard an unkind word. We looked out for each other, sharing food and water and were buoyed by the surging positive energy to keep walking for hours. We laughed at signs like “We shall over comb” and chants like “Cant build the wall, hands too small.” There was a collective joy in the enormity of what we were taking part in and a feeling of empowerment in our solidarity for the fights that lie ahead.

Our army in pink pussy hats sent a message to the grabber-in-chief: we will not be demeaned, exploited or assaulted. We refuse to give up control over our own bodies to your policies or your sexual aggressions. We honor our bodies no matter what shape, size or color. We refuse to loose our health care. We refuse to stand by while greed destroys our planet and robs our grandchildren of their future. We refuse a gun culture that allows our children to be slaughtered in their classrooms. We refuse to see immigrant families torn apart by deportation. We refuse to make enemies of our neighbors.

Our way -- loving one another, caring for each other, sharing with one another –- will build a compassionate America that respects and cares for all people and for our Mother Earth. We reject the narcissistic “me first” tone of “America first.”  Shouldn’t Earth come first?  Should we not care first for our home planet on which all our lives depend? And put Earth’s children first? The children of every country and of every species in the vibrant web of life?

The Women’s March was not for just a day.  We are marching on, joined by the men who love and respect us, who have the healthy balance of feminine and masculine energies that we seek in our children, our culture, our economy and our government.  We, the majority - men and women of all races and faiths together - are organizing for this week, for next week, for 2018 and beyond.  We are building an America that will overcome the historic injustices of white supremacy and misogyny to achieve the true destiny of our beloved country – an America truly by and for the people.

Now is the time to show that our way is the American way - an America that respects indigenous rights, minority rights, gender rights, religious rights, the rights of the disabled, women’s rights, human rights and non-human rights in all of nature. 

The America of the future is about partnership, not domination; sharing, not hoarding; bridges, not walls; respect, not ridicule; peace, not war; love, not fear. It will take time, but we will not be stopped. Patriarchy, the end is near.  We are doing it our way.

Standing Rock: Where Love Prevails


Standing Rock: Where Love Prevails

A thousand-year-old Lakota prophecy tells of a Black Snake that would one day rise from the deep and move across the land bringing destruction and great sorrow. The Sioux believe that the Black Snake has arrived in the form of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the most powerful economic and political force in the world - the fossil fuel industry.
Not long after our group of travelers arrived at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota for a weeklong stay at the native-owned casino hotel, we began to meet Water Protectors, who were suffering from a police attack a few days before our arrival. 

From home I had watched the horrifying scene on live stream. Blocked from escape, hundreds of unarmed Water Protectors on the bridge across the Cannonball River were blasted with water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures. I could see clouds of tear gas and hear people screaming and calling for a medic as the cameraman expressed disbelief that this was happening to unarmed civilians.  Later we got the full report that exploding percussion grenades had severely damaged a native woman’s eye and blown off most of the arm of a 21-year-old woman from New York. Several hundred were hospitalized for hyperthermia and injuries.  In earlier confrontations, non-violent Water Protectors defending sacred sites from bulldozers were beaten with batons, bitten by vicious dogs, arrested, stripped searched and locked up for days in jail cells or held in dehumanizing dog kennels.
Now we were meeting victims first hand. The native-led Water Protectors, as they call themselves, rather than protestors, are living in nearby encampments to defend the land, water and sacred sites of the Sioux. There is no running water in the camps, so as other hotel guests were doing, we offered our rooms for hot showers. A young native man still covered with tear gas residue sprayed on him three days earlier, was suffering from a deep cough.  Another had a broken hand. A native woman who worked on camp security fell asleep from exhaustion on one of our beds. Before taking his shower, a non-native ally who served as a medic showed us a blue colored rubber bullet about the size of a golf ball, one of many that had lacerated heads, broken bones and knocked people unconscious, including an elder. The medic had been thrown backward when he was hit squarely in the chest.  He thought that surely, the large red cross he wore on the front of his jacket had been used as a target.
When I first caught sight of the law enforcement officers a few days later, I felt a chill.  Dozens of helmeted policeman stood in a row along the high ridge of Turtle Island, a place of ancient burial sites sacred to the Sioux.  Dark figures silhouetted against the sky loomed menacingly above the peaceful protestors gathered at the base of the hill holding a large banner reading Indigenous Sovereignty Protects Water. Behind them along the banks of the Cannonball River sprawled an encampment of teepees, tents, yurts, trailers, horse corrals and old school buses. Guarding the bridge where the recent attack had taken place, another row of police officers in riot gear wearing black helmets with face guards held bully sticks across their bullet proof vests as they stood behind shining coils of razor wire and concrete barriers flanked by armored vehicles.
These armed forces were protecting what lay out of view behind them - the construction of the oil pipeline headed toward the nearby Missouri River. The original route of the pipeline had run to the north near the city of Bismarck, a largely white community that had insisted the pipeline be rerouted down stream to cross the river next to the Sioux reservation. If successful the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) would bore under the river, threatening the source of drinking water for the reservation and millions downstream in its mission to carry 20 million gallons a day of crude oil fracked from the Bakken oil fields.  With the frequency of oil spills increasing, including two major recent spills in North Dakota, the danger is real. If the pipeline does succeed in bringing the oil to market, it will produce the carbons equivalent to 30 coal power plants every year for 20 years or more. 
Mni Wiconi -- Water is Life -- is the call from Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires), the largest of several camps at Standing Rock, named for the seven tribes of the Sioux nation, which include the Lakota.  Located next to the reservation and preserved for indigenous use under the 1851 Treaty of Laramie, this land was never ceded by the Sioux.  Oceti Sakowin and the first camp called Sacred Stone were started in the spring of 2016, and joined by several other encampments, all run by volunteers. Non-violent and spiritually centered, the Standing Rock movement honors the sacredness of the natural world. Throughout the campsDefend the Sacred is printed on banners and on t-shirts proudly worn by native teenagers. All seven tribes of the great Sioux Nation, some former enemies, have joined together at Oceti Sakowin for the first time since Little Big Horn.  Along the camp’s main road wave the colorful flags of some 300 tribes who have journeyed across the Americas, from Argentina to Alaska, bringing traditional dress, ceremonial pipes and drums to join the Sioux in the largest gathering of Native Americans in recorded history.
In support of this native-led movement tens of thousands of non-native allies have joined the camps swelling them at one point to as many as 10,000.  Many more have visited to bring supplies and resources to support Standing Rock. Our group of 35 traveled to North Dakota to cook and serve 2000 dinners on Thanksgiving to express our gratitude to Native Americans for protecting Mother Earth, as they have throughout history. The Wopila (thank you) Brigade, as we called ourselves, spent two days at the Standing Rock Community High School kitchen, preparing the dinner, which we served in the school gymnasium, as well as distributed in the camps. Our brigade worked hand-in-hand with the school staff, who brushed away tears when they thanked us for coming, explaining that for so long the native community had felt unseen and forgotten. 
Our dinner began with a prayer by elder Jesse Taken Alive who had given a Lakota name to the event that translates Because We Believe Them, We Are Feeding Them. In continuous loops from the camps, the Water Protectors arrived in school buses and were offered hot showers in the locker rooms before heading to the buffet.  Jane Fonda appeared and asked me how she could help.  “How about dishing out the mashed potatoes,” I suggested, which she happily did.  With their plates heaping with turkey, potatoes and gravy, and an array of vegetable dishes, our guests made their way to the gymnasium to take seats at long banquet tables we had covered in the Sioux colors of the four directions - red, yellow, black and white. Displayed on the tables and along one wall were colorful thank you cards made by Philadelphia area school children drawn in crayon with messages such as, “thank you First Nation People for helping the air and water and earth. Ethan, third grader.”
During the dinner, an open mike attracted a variety of speakers, singers and performers, including some from our delegation, such as Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir from NYC, who also bussed tables as new groups arrived for dinner. After a native drum circle performance, the leader asked those who had prepared the feast to come forward. As we knelt at the edge of the stage, a seemingly endless line of Water Protectors filed past us shaking hands, giving hugs and thanking us for the feast, creating an emotional ending to an evening that had united people from across the country in support of a cause that no single one of us could fully comprehend in its enormity, yet each had come to serve in our own modest way.
Following Thanksgiving, our group spent several days at Oceti Sakowin, beginning with an orientation for new arrivals. Sitting on straw bales in a tent, we were schooled by seasoned non-natives about Lakota values and made to understand that this indigenous-led movement is a continuation of 500 years of resistance to colonization. As guests at this ceremonial prayer camp, we were expected to give more than we take, be of use in the maintenance of the camp, and unlearn our unconscious acts of white privilege, including our desire to control and push forward our own ideas. We were instructed to listen and learn, show compassion for all, including ourselves when we made mistakes, honor wisdom and truth, and act respectfully and with humility.
At Oceti Sakowin, where weapons, drugs and alcohol are banned, we observed native people and their allies living in a welcoming, inclusive community that exemplified these values. When someone needed something, it was given freely, as we found when we waited in line for a cup of coffee or tea or came into a tent set up as a store that offered hundreds of items from lanterns to toothpaste at no charge. Both native and non-native volunteers had traveled far, leaving jobs and families to join the cause – cooking, cleaning, chopping wood, organizing supplies, helping to build tiny houses and install solar panels.  Many had been serving at Standing Rock for over six months. In kitchens set up in large military tents throughout the camps, volunteers cooked three meals a day for thousands of hungry Water Protectors, using donated supplies that continually streamed into the camps. There was a sense of abundance, an almost magical flow of energy that I can only imagine as the power of love, and an indomitable feeling of hope in the collective resolve of this native-led, multi-cultural, intergenerational movement.
Around the Sacred Fire, always kept burning in the center of camp, drums beat and elders share wisdom for those who come to learn. Native youth from many tribes play a central role in leadership in the Standing Rock movement, speaking for the community at press conferences, organizing actions and patrolling the borders of the camps on horseback. Each morning before dawn during our visit, Water Protectors gathered around the Sacred Fire and an elder led a procession down to the river for a water ceremony just as the sun rose above the distant hills. As we engaged in these ceremonies, Standing Rock called us to feel our own spiritual connection to Mother Earth and be guided by her intelligence. 
Despite the history of abuse and betrayal against them, the native people of Standing Rock offer love to all, even the oppressors.  They are defending not only the future of their own children, they explain, but the children of the policemen and pipe layers as well. The native elders offer kind words to the police officers whenever there is contact. After the most vicious attacks, an elder formed a forgiveness procession to the sheriff’s office carrying a banner and a prayer bundle with blessings for the police officers and their families.  When the sheriff posted a notice in the newspaper requesting donations for items the officers needed, a group of indigenous youth delivered all the supplies listed, including milk, energy bars, batteries and hand warmers.
For over 500 years, Native Americans have repeated the same story – we must care for Mother Earth, so that she can care for us. Finally, the descendants of white settlers are beginning to listen.  Millions of supporters have joined this native-led movement by donating money and supplies, making calls and sending letters to government officials, holding supportive rallies under the banners of No DAPL and Water is Life, offering prayers, pulling money from banks who have invested in the pipeline company -- the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and staging protests at bank offices.

On our last evening, three of us from our group participated in a silent procession of 1,000 women to the bridge that was the sight of the attack one week earlier.  As requested, we had first attended a training session in non-violent direct action and had registered at the legal tent, where we were given a phone number to write in marker on our arm in case we were arrested.  As instructed, I had prepared for tear gas with a pair of goggles that I had received at the free store and a wet bandana in a plastic bag stuffed in my jacket pocket.  Behind me, the procession stretched as far as I could see, dotted with colorful banners readingProtect the Sacred. As our intergenerational, multi-cultural group of women bundled in winter coats and hats, walked arm in arm toward the barricades on the bridge, we heard orders for us to stop.  As we continued moving forward, I felt a sense of dread. In the end, the military allowed the elders at the front of the march to proceed down to the river for a water ritual as the rest of us knelt on the bridge. It was the closest I came to confronting the monster.
During my week at Standing Rock, I witnessed a surreal, epic drama of two contrasting worldviews, one of horror and one of hope, that will determine the fate of life on Earth. The Black Snake, driven by greed, uses violence and fear to dominate people and nature, and measures success by short-term profits and the accumulation of material wealth. This extractive economy is fed by rampant consumerism and our own addiction to oil and gas. It is a world where corporations violate Mother Earth every day by drilling, fracking, mountaintop removal, poisoning of water, soil and air, and the destruction of forests, marshes and the habitats of wildlife.
In contrast, the encampment at Standing Rock offers us a world we can choose to build together, one that is nonviolent, cooperative and loving, that honors women, the old and the young, and respects all species in the web of life. It is a world building a restorative economy that will produce the basic needs of all people, while protecting and restoring natural systems. It is a world of awe, wonder and joy that honors our one Mother Earth.
Standing Rock calls us to join the struggle to defeat the Black Snake, inspiring us to act with courage to protect our own communities and the future of the children we love. Around the globe indigenous people are standing on the front lines in defense of their places. As the prophecy further warns, if the Earth’s people do not unite to defeat the Black Snake, the world will end. As we near catastrophic climate change, this could be our last chance, individually and as a nation, to choose life over money, love over fear and join as one people.  The story of the Black Snake is not over yet, but the conclusion is near. What role will each of us play in the outcome?
The first major snowstorm arrived the morning we left.  As the bitter Dakota winter descended, the tribal council, concerned for their safety, asked the Water Keepers to move from the camps, leaving a contingent of 1000 or so to hold the space.  In the spring, Oceti Sakowin, which grew organically on a flood plain, will move to higher ground. With both the immediate need and the future in mind, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has planned an all-weather eco-village on 50 acres of the reservation.  The Mni Wiconi Sustained Community will model a locally based restorative economy of sustainably produced food, energy and building materials.  It will be a sacred gathering place for generations to come, and a place to remember and honor the history being made at Standing Rock, while celebrating an economy and way of living that is dramatically less dependent on fossil fuels. During our preparation for the trip, our Wopila Brigade helped raise over $70,000 for the first building in the eco-village called Makigi Oti, the Brown Earth Lodge, and a larger fundraising campaign is now underway.
As we left Standing Rock over 2500 US veterans of foreign wars began arriving to act as unarmed human shields in defense of the Water Protectors. Later we heard the story of a gathering when hundreds of veterans asked for forgiveness from native elders, as they acknowledged the history of genocide and theft of the land. An elder expressed forgiveness and added, We do not own the land, the land owns us. Could Standing Rock signal a new era in American history when we address the historic injustice on which our country was founded, defend the sovereign rights of the first people and protect the land and water they have held sacred for tens of thousands of years?
After our return home, I watched a jubilant scene at Standing Rock on live stream as the tribal chair announced the exciting news - the Army Corp of Engineers had denied the permit needed to bore under the river and called for a full environmental impact statement for rerouting the pipeline. A well-earned victory for the Sioux and their allies, but by no means the end of the struggle.  A climate-denying president-elect with strong financial and political ties to the fossil fuel industry and personal investments in the pipeline, will soon take office. Following the announcement of the permit denial by the Obama administration, the pipeline company immediately issued a defiant statement vowing to complete the project under the river without rerouting.  
The three photos were taken by the author at the women’s silent peace march on November 27, 2016.  For additional photos and a more detailed story of the Wopila Brigade, click here:
To contribute to building the Mni Wiconi Sustained Community, go to:
To find out if your bank is among those financing the Dakota Pipeline, go to:
To find a local struggle to defeat the Black Snake or add your group, go to:
To support the winter camp at Oceti Sakowin:

All three photos taken by Judy at the women's silent march on November 27

Why I'm Going to Standing Rock for Thanksgiving

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This Thanksgiving, I’m going to Standing Rock with a delegation of over 50 people from across the US to cook and serve dinner for 500 of the Water Protectors as a small way to give back to Native Americans on our national day of thanks.

Looking back on history, Native Americans saved the lives of newly arrived Europeans in what is now Massachusetts by sharing their harvest in the winter of 1620. The Wampanoag, who had lived in the region for some 12,000 years, taught the settlers to grow native crops. The Wampanoag were not the only tribe to be generous. In the earliest days, many tribes throughout the Americas helped new settlers survive.  

The foods the natives shared with settlers were not just growing wild. They were cultivated over many generations by native people who had a deep connection to the land. Today, many vegetables and fruits in our diet were first cultivated by Native Americans, including foods found on the Thanksgiving table - potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, corn, tomatoes, squash, pumpkin, and cranberry. The turkey many enjoy on Thanksgiving Day was first domesticated by Native Americans.

The idyllic traditional story of the first Thanksgiving in which the settlers shared with the native people in 1621 is largely a myth. Tragically and shamefully, what followed the European arrival was five hundred years of genocide and betrayal of Native Americans.  To this day, treaties are being broken for the benefit of white expansionism.  In North Dakota, survivors of the genocide are taking a stand against the construction of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, planned to carry highly flammable crude oil under the Missouri River, endangering the drinking water for millions downstream and threatening sacred burial grounds. If successful in eventually reaching refineries on the Gulf and East Coasts, the project will become the source of carbon emissions equivalent to nearly 30 coal plants every year for the next 20-30 years.

The Standing Rock Sioux, joined by native people belonging to some 300 tribes from across the Americas, are camped along the Missouri river to protect their water, land and way of life. Rather than protestors, the natives call themselves Protectors and are risking their own safety and comfort to non-violently stand up to corporate control and the militarism of armed police in riot gear. The Protectors say they are working for a healthy future for all of our children and grandchildren, including those of the pipeline workers and police officers.  

Native leader Dallas Goldtooth explains, "The best part of the work we do is that it’s not what we’re fighting against but what we’re fighting for. We advocate for localized, small-scale renewable energy production. The same with food production, localized and sustainable.” I’m going to Standing Rock because I share this vision for our future. A localized economy will not only decrease the power of large corporations and cut down on the carbons of long distance shipping, but will also make our communities more resilience and self-reliant. At the same time, decentralizing our economy spreads business ownership and wealth more broadly and creates meaningful local jobs, building a more just and sustainable economy.

I’m going to Standing Rock in hopes that this stand begins a new era in American history when the rights and sovereignty of indigenous people are defended, as well as the rights of nature. As our country reels in the aftermath of a divisive election, now is the time for all people to stand together and become the America that we are meant to be.

I’m going to Standing Rock because the native people are spiritually evolved with a deep reverence for nature.  In observing their leadership, I recognize the values needed to move our country forward - respect for Mother Earth and all species, cooperation, generosity, non-violence, humility and love.

I’m going to Standing Rock to give back to Native Americans for first cultivating many foods that nourish me and for helping the early settlers survive, including my own ancestors who were aided by the Wampanoag in Massachusetts and the Lenape in Pennsylvania.  

I’m going to Standing Rock because I want to tell the story of the Protectors’ courage and love of the land to inspire other communities to defend our watersheds - to stop fracking, drilling, pipelines, refineries and all fossil fuel infrastructure that is leading toward the end of life on Earth as we know it. Standing Rock is a call to all of us to protect what we love.

I’m going to Standing Rock because our civilization, addicted to oil and the wasteful life-style it supports, is racing blindly toward our own extinction by climate chaos and toxicity. Yet again, Native Americans are leading us toward our survival.

A Lakota prophecy speaks of a Black Snake crossing the land, bringing with it destruction and devastation.  The Black Snake is now inching toward the Missouri River.  The Black Snake is a monster driven by greed, destroying all of life in its path and even devouring the children of tomorrow.

I'm going to Standing Rock because I hear a voice saying, “Follow the Indians. They know the way.”

                                  - Judy Wicks, November 17, 2016

If you would like to help build an all-weather straw bale community center for tribal meetings at Standing Rock, please go to:


Funds for the Water Protectors Community Appreciation Dinner are being collected at

The Beauty - and Power - of Small Business

Like many entrepreneurs, I started my business for the freedom it gave me to do things my own way. I was more individualistic than cooperative, and had a lone ranger mentality.  But I wanted to do the right thing and be a sustainable business. At first my goal was to have the best possible practices – recycling, composting, solar hot water, renewable electricity, buying fair trade, paying a living wage – within my company. What could be better?

In the 1980s when my restaurant began buying from local farmers, my intention was to develop a network of farmers to supply my restaurant with pasture-raised meat and poultry, and organic fruits and vegetables. As the only restaurant offering an abundance of humane and sustainably grown local farm products, this would be our market niche, our competitive advantage. But in a transformational moment, I realized that there is no such thing as one sustainable business, no matter how hard we might try. We can only be part of a sustainable system.

Envisioning a whole regional food system that incorporated the values I upheld, I began helping other restaurants, even my competitors, to buy from an expanding network of local farmers. Rather than focusing only on the short-term interests of my own business, I turned my attention to the long-term economic sustainability of my region by working to build a local economy that benefited everyone – family farmers, farm animals, local businesses, rural and urban citizens, and the quality of our soil, air, and water. And, of course, it benefited the long-term interests of my business, too. Transitioning to a just and sustainable economic system, I discovered, requires cooperation and sharing.

By 2001, when I co-founded BALLE, I realized that the freedom I so valued when I began my business was being threatened by an overpowering force. It was not the communist threat I had been taught to fear as a child in the 50s, but rather American capitalism gone amok.  It was clear that multi-national corporations were largely controlling the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the fuel we burn, the news we hear and even the government we depend upon to protect the common good.  

Centralized production has made communities around the world dependent on long distance supply chains to deliver basic needs like food, clothing, and energy from faraway corporations. This industrialized economic system has destroyed local economies, drained wealth from our communities, and left people jobless. It has also made us less happy.  Local businesses – the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker – once provided the personal relationships that formed the foundation for community life.

Though it’s called “economic development,” those on the production side of the supply chains in developing countries, indigenous communities and low-income populations are often forced into bleak, soulless jobs in sweatshops and factories, factory farms and plantations, drilling and mining sites and billowing refineries that are destroying the local culture and natural environment.  No happiness here.

A decentralized economy not only creates more business ownership and job opportunities in our own communities, but also increases food and energy security. The role of small business owners is crucial in producing, distributing, and retailing basic needs locally.  By working together, small businesses, local governments and citizens can create an alternative to corporate-controlled globalization and the destruction and inequality it brings – an alternative that builds long-term community wealth, protects our local eco-system, creates meaningful jobs, and brings greater happiness. 

In these challenging times of climate change there is urgency. Not only is local production reducing the carbon of long distance shipping, we are preparing our communities for the inevitable consequences of climate change by decreasing our dependence on global supply chains easily disrupted by erratic weather, social upheaval, rising transportation costs, and the fluctuations of prices in the global marketplace.

Across the continent, networks of local businesses are cooperating to build local supply chains, replacing imports and building local self-reliance in an interdependent local economy of human-scale businesses. Not only are local farms providing fresh produce in farmers markets and grocery stores, but local food enterprises are stocking the middle aisles of our grocery stores year round with a wide array of products from canned and jarred goods to pasta and locally-milled heritage grains.  We can now put our local cheese on a locally made cracker and wash it down with local beer, wine, or even a martini made with locally-distilled gin.

Fibersheds are producing and processing local wool, cotton, and increasingly hemp into textiles and clothing in a dirt-to-shirt movement. Local designers, sewers, makers, and retailers are bringing unique character and identity to towns and cities. Local green builders and architects, weatherization companies, renewable energy suppliers, and rooftop solar installers are transforming the industry to meet the challenge of climate change.

But this new economy is not only local.  It’s about building a global network of local economies that produce basic needs locally, export the surplus, import (through fair trade practices) goods not available locally, and develop products unique to the region for exchange in the global marketplace – be it a fashion design, fine wine or cheese, artwork, or entrepreneurial innovation.

Since freedom has always been important to me, I now work collaboratively in my local business network to defend our democratic rights as many other business leaders are doing across the country. Using the collective voice of small business, we are challenging public policies that favors corporate control and demanding legislation that supports the emergence of an economy that works for all, while protecting the natural environment for future generations.

Making a living by doing something we love is a way to express our deepest values, live up to our full potential, and find purpose and meaning. I witness this on the shining faces of a local boutique owner when she shows me a dress she designed, and the farmer coming in the back door of a restaurant with a flat of organic strawberries, or a young man who has been trained in a green jobs program to install solar panels on my roof. Business is beautiful when we put our energy, creativity, and care into producing a product or service that our community needs.  Shine on beautiful businesses, shine on!

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I Admire Hillary, but I'm Voting for Bernie

Bernie has not given up on his dreams. He believes that young people should be given a college education to reach their full potential without the burden of excessive debt. He believes that peace is the way, and not won by violent means. He believes that all people should be treated with dignity, compassion and fairness, whether they are immigrants, the incarcerated, or Palestinians.

Hillary is strong and capable, but she has forgotten what is possible even in her own wild imagination.  She has forgotten the promise of America.  Hillary has survived, even thrived, in a world where dreams are sacrificed for what is achievable within a corrupt system - one run by and for the oil and gas men, big ag, big pharm, big arms, big banks.  The rest of us are handed just enough to keep us complacent.  

But no longer.  A growing number of we the people are no longer accepting the destruction of our democracy and the shattering of our collective dreams for equality and justice, and freedom from oppression by the most powerful. Today, we citizens are called upon to continue the struggle to bring these dreams into being – to live out our destiny as the country America is meant to be.

Bernie has launched a revolution to free our country from corporate rule and keep our dreams alive.  They are not fantasies, as some suggest. They are the same hopes and dreams that have built this country.

The revolution begins with Bernie’s refusal to take corporate money in a campaign funded on an unprecedented scale by ordinary people. It is a political revolution that plans not only to take the White House, but the Senate, too, and eventually the House, in order to overthrow the oligarchy and restore democratic rule.

Bernie is leading a clean energy revolution that will bring green power to the people and outlaw fracking, not just some fracking as Hillary advocates, but all fracking.  Bernie understands that climate change is an urgent issue - no time for half measures.

Bernie is leading an economic revolution that stops job-exporting trade deals and builds an economy that protects our environment, while providing living wage green jobs – an economy with local manufacturing and regional food systems comprised of family farms, not corporate factory farms.

Bernie is leading a peace revolution that does not support coups or the invasion of other countries to topple their leaders as Hillary and her advisor Henry Kissinger have done.

Ultimately, Bernie is leading what Dr. King called a “Revolution of Values,” attacking the “giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism” that he warned are incapable of being conquered as long as “profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people.”

Like millions of others, I’ve joined Bernie’s revolution. I am sad not to vote for Hillary. As a woman of her generation, I have been waiting for this moment most of my life.  But she is not the leader that is called for now. If Hillary wins the primary, surely I will work hard for her. The alternative is unthinkable. But my dream is not just to have a woman in the White House, but to elect a president with strong feminine energy in balance with the masculine - one who leads with love.  Just as Bernie does.