Mar 18, 2016
"The authority of government... is still an impure one: to be strictly just, it must have the sanction and consent of the governed."
Inspired by such lines from Henry David Thoreau's 1849 essay "Civil Disobedience," a local timber-frame builder in Ashfield, Massachusetts, has constructed a replica of the author's Walden Pond cabin directly in the path of a proposed Kinder Morgan fracked gas pipeline, TheRecorderreported this week.
"In relation to this pipeline, the will of the people is not really being listened to," explained the builder, Will Elwell, to the local newspaper. "We're just getting bombarded and railroaded through without [officials] being empathetic to our concerns."
"If you read some of Thoreau's work, some of the lines in there are pretty apropos to what's happening these days to our government."
--Will ElwellThe natural gas pipeline has been fiercely opposed by local residents of the Berkshires, a region renowned for its natural beauty. The nearly $5 billion pipeline project would run through Ashfield, Conway, Shelburne, Deerfield, Montague, Erving, Northfield, and Warwick, TheRecorder reported, where "there are wetlands, rivers, springs, farms and forests."
Local citizens' concerns range from breathing air released from compressor stations to noise pollution and the potential for disastrous pipeline breakages, according to the Berkshire Eagle.
In another show of opposition, a 200-person march sponsored by the local direct action resistance campaign Sugar Shack Alliance is currently taking place along the whole 53-mile pipeline path to protest its construction. The trek began Thursday and is estimated to take four days.
One protester told TheRecorder that she chose to take part in the march because "corporate takeover of land protected by the state is not inevitable. We can't continue to look at all this as inevitable; we have to take action."
\u201cHere's the replica of Thoreau's cabin being built in the path of Kinder-Morgan's #fracked gas pipeline. Beautiful!\u201d— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben) 1458317092
Elwell finished constructing the 10-by-15-foot cabin on Wednesday. The construction was sanctioned by the town, whose selectboard members oppose the pipeline project, and even boasted a proper building permit sticker.
"We're here doing our job--to oppose the pipeline," a selectboard member told TheRecorder, which also reports that "the town adopted a resolution to oppose the controversial pipeline last year."
Another selectboard member recently asked town meeting members to approve spending $10 million on a legal fight to oppose the pipeline's construction, TheRecorder reported.
Elwell told the newspaper, "I feel I have to do something. Ideally, I would love to see a structure along the pipeline everywhere it intersects a road."
Across the border in Monadnock, N.H., a small town the pipeline would also pass through, local citizen Coni Porter wondered in an op-ed, "What would Thoreau think?"
"I believe he would talk about a future not dependent on fossil fuels," Porter argued, "he would speak about the power of the sun, wind, and water."
"If you read some of Thoreau's work, some of the lines in there are pretty apropos to what's happening these days to our government," Elwell told TheRecorder as he worked on his post-and-beam construction.
"Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect," Thoreau declared in 1849, "and that will be one step toward obtaining it."
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.