Around the County; Observations January 2017

Sign for Millenium Pipeline, posted on gas facility in Ramapo, NY

Many national or even global issues register as nothing more than theoretical concerns (or perhaps not even real at all) to many people, for the very simple reason that evidence is not obvious and in front of them on a daily basis. However, most issues leave some visible reminder close at hand, no matter how “other side of the world” CNN might make them out to be. Pick an issue, and chances are there’s something here in Rockland lying just below the surface, or standing off in the background, or hiding just the other side of a closed door or gate– something you pass by every day but never really noticed, that would make an issue less theoretical and more personal, more in-your-face-real.

For me, the Ramapo M & R Station in Montebello, which I hike past several times a week, serves as one small wake-me-up that the fracking industry is still busy out in nearby Pennsylvania. Having camped, hiked, and fished in and around the Kakiat Park area for over forty years, I’ve witnessed this facility in the northeast corner of the park grow from a half tennis court-sized enclosure, to a full one acre compound of giant steel pipes, sheds, and other structure. On my hikes, the humming I can hear, and sometimes rumbling I can feel through the ground, of large quantities of gas rushing from Pennsylvania to Rockland and points east, keeps me mindful of the fact that Rockland is not isolated, is a part of a bigger world, and that fracking and its environmental damage are happening right here and right now.

What issues do you follow at a national level, such as food and water safety, education, healthcare, or racial inequality, that also leave easy-to-find, visible scars on Rockland county? We have poor and isolated communities of all races here in Rockland; health clinics and emergency rooms that are on the front lines in the battle over affordable care; leaking landfills and other waste infrastructure contaminating our air and water; poorly performing schools; and dysfunctional political and electoral systems.

I have an idea in my head of doing a series of walkabouts around Rockland in the coming months to highlight other issues that progressives might be up in arms about nationally, but are not aware of at a personal, local level. Stay tuned.