Poem Written in Lobby of Mass MOCA art museum – A Saga of Transformation

Sunshine at MASS MOCA October 2014

 

MUSEUM LOBBY      (a.k.a. Mass MOCA – Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art)

 

conduits of yesterday-metal

vie with writhings pf formidable tubes

against the striated ceiling

 

columns unretouched in this century

allow the past to bleed through

–here, the hue of Mohawks in rain

–there, the tone of too many tears

 

beams scoured by time

jostle too-shiny

modern replacements

 

I resist descending

this fierce metal stairway

leading to that basement

where factory workers headed

to restrooms lacking all rest

where harshness and high walls

surround sinks that still insult

 

this lobby, capacious and echoing

streams with guests

–eager and savvy

–even the children

skipping toward grim gate and guard

 

everywhere

pillars / ceilings / room dividers

flaunt splotches and scars

vivid as palettes of the brilliant

whose lifework adorns

relentlessly eloquent walls

 

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

Mother’s Day, 2017

***

Factory Wall MASS MOCA October 2014

***

Factory Bathroom MASS MOCA

***Factory Washroom MASS MOCA

I actually thanked the Mass MOCA guards for the policy of not retouching the industrial past of this glorious museum, –full-to-the-brim with the most challenging art installations.  They were gratified, especially when I added, “This reality honors all who worked within these walls.  And underscores the powerful meaning of each artist’s work.”

As a creative person, I viscerally feel how stifled those factory workers must have been, laboring deep within these endless, now empty, but then emptying, spaces.

On this week’s Berkshire Journey, I realized that the transformation of Mass MOCA echoes that of the miraculous Michener Museum in Doylestown, –once a prison where my friends (mothers, nursing mothers, grandmothers) were impounded over an entire weekend for daring to lie down in front of bulldozers who would destroy the banks of the Delaware, so that the dread PUMP could be built to deplete our sacred river.

James and Mari Michener’s vision has been realized, that art triumph over incarceration.

I salute all the visionaries who knew that thought-provoking installations could surpass industrial dehumanization.  Being at Mass MOCA is like standing under a shower of fresh mountain waters, mixed with electrifying ions, generous helpings of stardust, and more than a dash of cayenne.

***

Campanile MASS MOCA Entry October 2014

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DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER: “Environmental Protection is Not a Partisan Issue”

 

 

Delaware, the River, and the Official Riverkeeper — Tale of Christmas and Courage

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Washington Crossing the Delaware to Trenton, from Internet, by Leutze

Christmas is a time for every citizen in our country and everywhere, to remember:

without the Delaware River, there wouldn’t BE an America. 

This post celebrates a mightily courageous woman — Maya von Rossum — the official Delaware Riverkeeper.  She’s articulate, accurate, and brilliant.  Following her blog, or attending to local news media night after night, readers marvel at Maya’s steady focus on the many perils of our boundary water, and what must be done to reverse them.  Some situations are obvious and seemingly internal: like pollution, stormwater run-off, animal wastes and fertilizer poisoning by nearby farms.  One, which I fought to prevent, is artificially emptying her to cool a nuclear power plant.  Other dangers are less visible, certainly far more difficult to describe — matters political.  Listen with me to our spokeswoman, what she has to say about our river, our country, our freedom in these times.  AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SPEAKING OUT. 

Thomas Paine exemplified the utmost daring and determination in his diatribes, polemics, books and pamphlets in the time of the American Revolution.  It is the essence of the country our Founding Fathers dared all to create, that vox populi  — the Citizen’s Voice — is to be encouraged and heeded so that liberty may truly exist. 

Thomas Jefferson felt the war could never have been won without Paine’s words.  It is no accident that his most famous book is Common Sense.

NJWILDBEAUTY long-time readers, –especially those who came aboard when this was a Packet Publications Blog, NJWILD –, know that I’ve been fighting for the well-being of our magnificent Delaware River since I moved to New Hope from Princeton in March of 1981.   I used postcards of the painting above to announce my change of address.

baldpate-mountain-view-brenda-jones

Delaware River From Baldpate Mountain by Brenda Jones

That essential move across the river plunged me right into her perils.  Forces of greed, (though we did not bandy about that phrase in those days), a.k.a. PECO (Pennsylvania’s PSEG) and chemical firms, lawyers and judges, far-seeing realtors wanted to insert a pump into the Delaware.  To remove unconscionable amounts from this already too-thin river, and pump them to the Susquehanna River, where Del’s water would be used to cool a nuclear power plant.  A fierce protest group, Del-AWARE formed.  A newspaper was generated.  The printed word, the spoken word, and especially the televised word brought us national coverage in our battle for the river.

Our strategy meetings were held at a rather disreputable tavern, [Applejack’s – is it still there?] –appropriately upriver, on the river, above New Hope.  Remember that taverns were the meeting sites in the 1770s, where our seemingly impossible American Revolution unfolded.  I always picture early patriots, including Tom and John and George and Ben at Philadelphia’s City Tavern, banging pewter tankards on rough wooden tables, asserting “Give me LIBERTY or give me DEATH!”

In the 1980’s, near Lumberville, PA, just north of New Hope, my own friends, — women, including nursing mothers and venerable grandmothers–, lay down in front of the bulldozers set loose to ruin the river environmentlay down to save the river, and were jailed at what is now the Michener Museum.  For some reason, no one at that Bucks County penal institution seemed to have heard of the writ of habeas corpus, so those women were jailed for the entire weekend!  Patriots, indeed!  I think of this every time I view Delaware River Impressionists honored on the Michener’s former prison walls.

flood-waters-brenda-jones

Delaware in Flood, by Brenda Jones

I love our river even more than I cherish our state.  But I couldn’t lie down in front of bulldozers.  However, I could write.  I penned poems such as “I am The River Speaking” and “To Val (Sigstedt) and the Valorous” to be published in the DEL-AWARE newspaper.  One, written when the forces of greed blasted the river during the shad run, [and Nature generated a powerful mud-slide right across from the site of the proposed PUMP], ends, “Blast ME?  I’ll show YOU power!”

[To read the poems, here’s an earlier post with both in it:https://njwildbeauty.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/dump-the-pump-fighting-for-the-delaware-river-with-poems/comment-page-1/%5D

One feels so hopeless in the force of these impassive official corporate forces.  But I could also write prose, –especially letters to editors of Bucks County and Philadelphia Newspapers.  And, each week, in Doylestown, as a volunteer, I  penned position papers, releases and speeches for Congressional candidate, Peter Kostmayer.  Peter ultimately would see to it that our Del was named Wild and Scenic, for as much of her imperiled length as could possibly qualify.  He also played a major role in stopping the Tocks Island Dam Project. I’d write truths about the essentiality of saving our river one day, and see them on Page One of the Philadelphia Inquirer, as headlines, the next day.

THEN, as NOW, WORDS MATTERED – but they must be conveyed to the broadest possible public.

We succeeded in returning Peter to office, despite mockery, fury, insults, dirty tricks – like wording the Dump the Pump referendum backwards, so we had to vote YES to mean NO PUMP.  We won the May referendum to prevent the building of the PUMP. 

After which, I moved to France.  Upon my return, the PUMP was in place.  It had been a non-binding referendum.  Let the protestors beware…  However, our battle kept the greedy group from fulfilling their original plan to remove 200 million gallons a day from the River of the Revolution!

It’s almost Christmas, 1916.  Grave changes are afoot in our country, which could result in negative changes far more perilous and long-lasting than the Delaware’s unwelcome PUMP.

It’s also almost the anniversary of George’s famous Crossing, to win the two battles of Trenton and the one battle of Princeton.  Never forget that the third of our first victories took place in Princeton, near the Clarke House, near the Institute for Advanced Study [who have finally bowed to protests and will not be developing acres of that sacred battlefield.]

Soon we can attend the annual re-enactment at Washington’s Crossing on the Delaware below New Hope.  There might be enough water in our river, after all, despite this serious drought year.  People who live near major rivers know truths despite increasing insistence that global warming is a myth.  For awhile, it looked as though this year’s Re-enactors would have to walk across.

Without the Delaware River, and her bounty of shad, according to Founding Fish author John McPhee, which fed our meagerly-clad-and-nourished officers in winter quarters, WE WOULD NOT HAVE A NATION.

Because of the Delaware River, we are the only state with three coastlines — the Shore, The River, and the Delaware Bay.  Vital Philadelphia and our own Capitol would not exist without the Delaware,  Yet, she is never safe.

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Coursing Waters, High Water, Delaware River by Brenda Jones

LISTEN TO THE DELAWARE RIVERKEEPER, HERE, AND ACT ACCORDINGLY.  Her level of commitment, devotion, and willing to sacrifice and risk, is Revolutionary.  Let Maya be our model, every one of us!

LISTEN TO MAYA.  FOLLOW HER BLOG.  IT’S TIME THAT EACH OF US BECOMES A Delaware Riverkeeper, a keeper of all rivers, of all natural beauty and the creatures — including humans — who require safe habitat in order to thrive.   cfe
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    Maya van Rossum

    Maya K. van Rossum is the Delaware Riverkeeper & leader for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network. Learn more www.delawareriverkeeper.org

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    “DUMP THE PUMP” – Fighting for the Delaware River with poems

    Bulls Island and Delaware Bridge Solstice 2014 006

    Delaware River’s Wild and Scenic Reality

    Once upon a time, there was a sacred river.  Her name was Delaware.  In the 1980’s, people blasted our river, that joins New Jersey to Pennsylvania — blasted her in shad season, in April, in order to build a pump.  A pump to take out 200 million gallons a day from my beloved river, and send it over to the Susquehanna, to cool a nuclear power plant.

    to EMPTY this River!

    Red Kayak from Delaware Footbridge Bridge Solstice 2014 005

    Red Kayak, HIgh Water, Delaware River from the Bull’s Island Footbridge

    Once upon a time, there was a group called Del-Aware.  Grass-roots, indeed.  People who fought with every tool they could imagine, fought against chemical companies and the power company and lawyers and judges and realtors.  Fought to keep our Delaware, –which may be the only undammed major river in our country–, to keep her whole and safe and clear forever.

    John McPhee insists that shad from this river saved the lives of Washington’s starving soldiers in nearby Valley Forge.  In other words, saved our country.

    View from the Bridge  - April Delaware River

    To Keep Her Free and Clear Forever – Delaware from Bull’s Island Footbridge

    Friends of mine, women, nursing mothers and grandmothers among them, were jailed for putting their bodies in front of the bulldozers, brought to Lumberville to build the Pump House.  I don’t know whatever happened to the writ of habeas corpus in Bucks County Pennsylvania in the 1980s, but those women spent the weekend in jail, in Doylestown.  I’ve been in the Michener Museum’s cell, out in their courtyard, so I know how meager and degrading were their lodgings all that weekend.  God bless James and Mari Michener, who turned that jail, ultimately, into a major museum of Delaware Valley Impressionist art.  I stare at its stone wall every time I visit, remembering my courageous women friends, walled in by it and corporate greed, for an entire weekend.

    I have always been ashamed that I did not have the courage to put my body in front of vehicles bent on destruction of my river.  I have always honored my friends who were so fearless.

    I put my pen and my checkbook to use for the River.  Joining Del-Aware, going to wild meetings at Applejack’s upriver, writing poems for the cause’s newspaper, whose name I think was The Citizen’s Voice.

    We fought for our referendum, and it won, even though worded backwards.  We had to urge people to Vote Yes to Vote No.  I drove around Bucks County stapling up enormous posters, alerting those who wanted the ban the pump to vote YES.   We knew they didn’t want the pump.  We didn’t know if they could bear to vote YES to prevent it.

    Water tumultuous Brenda Jones

    Falls Along the Delaware River, by Brenda Jones

    We won, yes.  And when I returned from my year in Provence, the Pump had been built.  Water was being removed.  The Susquehanna and the power plant were being suffused with Delaware’s liquid life.  Why?  It was a non-binding referendum.  Oh, yes and miles of land that always failed perc tests had suddenly passed them, so an epidemic of McMansions profaned Bucks County upon my return.

    People still say, “It’s impossible, what you tried to do.  To fight all those implacable forces.”

    Maybe it was.  Impossible but essential.  It was our battle, our citizens’ joining.  Our stands for what was right.  Our love for the river.

    Delaware's Watery Beauty, Spring

    Spring Azaleas on the Pennsylvania Side of the Delaware, from Bull’s Island Footbridge

    The Congressman, for whose re-election I worked each week, writing his position papers, speeches and releases, the noble Peter Kostmayer, at least managed to get any part that qualified of our river named officially Wild and Scenic.  It’s cleaner by far now.  Shad run again.  Crowds suffuse Lambertville and New Hope now for each spring’s Shad Festival.

    Flood Waters Brenda Jones

    Delaware Flood by Brenda Jones

    People joined hands and stood up for what was right.  At least, we managed to get the water volume lowered that is stolen from our river of Independence.

    Fog along Delaware Titusville Brenda Jones

    Delaware Island in Flood and Fog by Brenda Jones

    Here are two of my Delaware poems, that were all I could manage, in terms of holding my own hands up against those vile bulldozers:

    Val is Val Sigsted, who lead the fight.  This poem was born the night I drove across the river with all windows open to feel the riverwind, hearing of our referendum’s victory, as I returned from theatre in Manhattan.  In the play, the key song had been “There’s a Small Hotel, with a wishing well…”, composed, I had always been told, at the Delaware-side Stockton Inn.

    TO VAL AND THE VALOROUS

     

    I am the River, speaking

    out of my depths

    out of the bounty of my shores

    with cleansing winds

    from my tumultuous clouds

     

    for streams who suckle me

    for shad yet to be born

    for generations of wildfowl for whom I am nursery

    for lilting swallows nesting at my banks

    for the ocean who cradles me at last

     

    to you who float me, tend me

    you who cast your nets within me

    you who paint me, weave me

    you who sculpt beside me

    you who sing me

    you who work to save me

     

    I, Delaware, carol thanks

    I, who had been barrier, am bond

     

    CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

    May 1983

    In the Web  Delaware Bridge

    Delaware Footbridge from Bull’s Island to Black Bass Inn, in PA — “I who had been barrier, am bond…”

    Yes, our river, which many see as dividing two states, in the 1980s, joined them.

    Table View Black Bass Autumn 2010

    TAble View of the Footbridge over Our Delaware, from the Black Bass Inn

    Here is the other — may these mere words catalyze others to fight for what is right in our country, for our citizens, for our rivers above all, for Nature Herself.

    This was written during a dire flood, long before the referendum, when the literal Power Company of Pennsylvania blasted the river during the shad run.

    Gooseterritorialdefense Brenda Jones

    “One Gander…” by Brenda Jones

     

    POWER COMPANY

     

    one gander dozes near the broached canal

    taking no notice of the river’s fury

    boiling through isolate skunk cabbage

     

    brown water churns like lava in broad tubes

    turns trees to whorling pinwheels

    massive drums to agitated corks

     

    my river vomits onto picnic sites

    I focus on her, seething at abutments

    numb fingers awkward at the lens

    chilled by new winds our angry river sources

    in her headlong freedom ride

     

    I return to find her licking at my carwheels

    as mallards swim the yellow parking lines

    she gulps hyacinths whole beyond the vanished footbridge

     

    I drive along our river’s threatened banks

    bristling with dawn fishermen, fellow pilgrims

    at the shrine of independence, the river rises

    determined as the General, crossing

     

    near the site where men employed by Power

    blasted as the shad began their run

    the Delaware claims my road and I retreat

    hear on every side, our river shouting:

     

    “Blast ME? I’ll show YOU power!”

     

    CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

     

     

    Eagle on Nest Bull's Island Towpath Hike 2015 Spring

    Eagle Head, Left Side of Bull’s Island Nest

    What it’s all about in the end — HABITAT!

    Support your local non-profits, defending Nature everywhere, especially where sacred rivers are concerned.