In a Environmental Studies class of mine, we watched a documentary that some of you might have seen titled Gas Land, by Josh Fox. In this film, it starts out with some vivid imagery of some of our natural gas wells, and takes us inside a some sort of congress meeting, discussing the importance of drilling for natural gas, saying that there is “no real credible threat to underground drinking water from hydrolic fracturing,” however, Josh seems to come up with some different findings along his journey for the truth. What he finds is frighting, and I encourage all of you to watch Gas Land, for I cannot get the whole feeling of the movie in one small post. This film is available on HBO and Netflix right now, and I’m sure you can find it a thousand other places online, because it is a pretty relevant issue. In the first minute of the film, those in favor of fracking have been giving misleading information, such as :” … entire process is imperceptible under the surface” and, “Mostly water and a few chemicals are used”. However after watching the film, and doing some independent research, I found that the fracking could drill us into a darker future.
As I flipped through the channels the other evening, I came across a commercial that was incredibly reminiscent of the Sun Maid Raisin commercial. The advertisement was for Canada Dry (ginger ale) and shows several men and women working the picturesque land with their hands. One man uproots a plastic bottle of this soda, and another soon after unearths what is revealed to be a Canada Dry vending machine that they then make use of. Like the Sun Maid commercial, this does not account for the true ingredients or integrity of the product, nor does it represent the actual methods of production.
It was a treat to have Theresa May, the author of Salmon Is Everything, join our class on Thursday. Her presence stimulated great discussion, and we learned about the steps she took to write the play. From what I gathered, it took a lot of time and research to come up with the content. Through rehearsal, editing, and discussion with locals, May was able to produce a great play that has now become a piece of history.
Many of the locals were skeptical that her work on the play was just her effort as an environmentalist to help a cause in the moment. They did not think that she would dedicate so much time to the environmental issue. May has thrown herself into the lives and culture of the Klamath people in order to ensure that the play accurately portrays the characters thoughts and feelings about the issue.
I would like to take a moment to reflect upon the stylistic elements that Theresa May incorporates into her play Salmon is Everything. She uses several different methods of interpreting her claims, and I feel that all are useful to convey a well-rounded story.
Personally, I thought the opening scene was well put together and did a fabulous job at conveying the message of the play. May wanted people to be aware of the population changes in Salmon and the importance that they play into Native American tribes, and she did this through poetic discourse. You have all these characters stating who they are and, at times, what tribes they are apart of. The list includes Karuk, Yurok, Nu-Tini-Xwe—Hupa, and many others. Some people chose to identify themselves by their profession such as farmers, basket weavers, dancers, biologists, etc..
This element metaphorically represented the relationship that people have with the salmon. They don’t simply use the fish for economic or fiscal gain, but have adopted the salmon as a part of their culture. It’s phenomenal to me that animals have such an influence on a single culture.
In part two of Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus Alejo gets directly sprayed with pesticides while in the height of a tree, picking it’s ripe fruits. After this contact with the pesticide or insecticide, Alejo explains how he feels as though he cannot breath right after the spray of the poison gets on him. Extreme pain envelops over Alejo’s body as the poison gets onto his pores. For the next few weeks Alejo gets no better, although some days are better than others.
After reading about Alejo’s conditions not getting any better in part three, I wanted to do a little research on pesticides, and what kind of effects they have on the human body, when in contact with one another. I found out that there is three categorizes to pesticide poisoning. Mild, moderate, and severe. Alejo had all the symptoms of the severe pesticide poisoning, with symptoms including any:
- inability to breathe
- chemical burns on skin
- respiratory distress
- loss of reflexes
- uncontrollable muscle twitching
In Viramontes’ Under the Feet of Jesus, the difficult life of the main characters takes place against the greater backdrop of the struggle among migrant farmworkers for legal protections, safe working conditions, and fair pay. As I read the book, I was reminded of details from a history class I took last spring that explored the awakening of political awareness among different ethnic groups during the civil rights era.
Although people of Hispanic descent have been present in the American Southwest since before California became a state, the arrival of large numbers of Mexican immigrants began in the early years of the Second World War, when the Bracero program was hatched. Conceived as a guest worker program during a period of growing agricultural demand, the idea was to bring in farm laborers during the harvest season who would then return to their native land in the off season. While it was in effect, the Bracero program was interrupted at regular intervals by deportation actions such as “Operation Wetback” in 1954. Nonetheless, by the time this legal framework ended in 1964, over 4.5 million guestworkers had entered the country at one point or another.
The novel, Under the Feet of Jesus, by Helena Maria Viramontes deals with the idea of environmental injustice and how people of low-socioeconomic status and/or of color are unfairly forced to deal, first-hand, with environmentally unsound and damaging situations, such as pesticide exposure and toxic water. In response to this phenomenon a movement called environmental justice, supported by writers such as Helena Viramontes and Rachel Carson, has taken root.
In class on Tuesday, we observed and analyzed a commercial for sun-maid raisins. In said commercial we pointed out a few facts about the way it was made–how the landscape seemed beautiful and lush, and how the woman looked as though she’d never worked a moment in her life. This goes the same for many other ads out there–noticeably in my mind orange and grape themed products. However, one then realizes that oranges and grapes are mostly grown in California–a place that is the opposite of lush and thriving. Not only that, but again, the woman is very ideal–the perfect weight, a beautiful face, and flawless skin. These are all the exact opposite of how the field really work. Continue reading
This week I will write about the use of Spanish in Under The Feet of Jesus. Viramontes use of Spanish in Under the Feet of Jesus has a jarring effect at first if you do not know Spanish (or even if you know some Spanish but cannot speak it that well like myself). Even though I am an English major I have plenty of trouble with the English language so any additional languages lead to doubts about being able to relate to the text, but it will be argued here that this may be a desired effect. It seems that the result of combining two languages seems to alienate the reader who does not know Spanish, unless they spend time researching what these passages say. Yet the use of English as the main text does give insight into these experiences, so for the English speaker, Spanish seems to be used as a method of saying while you can relate to these people in the text, they are also part of a different world that you can only relate through by a translation. From what I have learned about Spanish a translation may suffice, but it is not the same as knowing the language as something always seems lost.
The state of Oregon is many things to various people all over. Though, to a group of individuals who reside on the coast and dedicate their lives to change, it is known as a pioneer in the growing industry of sustainable fishing: an industry created to save fish and human interest alike in an effort to clean up a historically old and often waste laden profession.
There are so many fish in the sea it is hard to imagine the ocean bare. However, at the current rate at which humans fish, this could soon be a reality. Already scores of species of fish are endangered and over-fished to exhaustion as the demand for fish worldwide is overwhelming. Currently, seafood is expensive and those prices will only go up as certain species continue to fall off the radar. Due to this issue becoming rapidly more severe it has only recently evolved into one of visible importance and, in September, I was lucky enough to meet with one of the groups taking action in Port Orford, Oregon.