Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Jan 27, 2016 in Day Gun
I live on a deserted island.
There are others here, but without you- this realm is deserted.
It takes me all night to get to you in my dreams and when I do our conversation is easy, as always, but then I awaken.
Some days when I look at the sun I know you are too.
Some days when I look at the sun I imagine your boat crashing on my shore with a knock at the door…
…what happens next devours all that ever existed. I can’t tell how long I’ve been here.
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Sep 25, 2015 in Action
September 30th, 2015 is the DEADLINE to comment on ENDbridge’s proposed revision of line 3, the tar sands oil pipeline. Send your comments to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at this email address: email@example.com. Under the subject line of your email, put in docket PL-9/PPL-15-137 and PL/CN-14-916. Below is the comment letter that I submitted on September 25th, 2015.
To Whom it May Concern,
I am writing to comment on the “Certificate of Need” and “Route Permit” for the Enbridge line 3 oil pipeline replacement project. The validity of this comment and review process is more than questionable after the unanimous vote of support by the Minnesota Public Utility Commission for Enbridge’s Sandpiper oil pipeline project earlier this year. I choose to share my thoughts and perspective on this attempt to create a oil pipeline corridor through the region in which I live, in hopes of inspiring others to comment as well. Not all Minnesotans are willing to sell out the long term livability of our home for short term profits for a foreign corporation. After listening to debates, attending meetings and following this important matter for over a year, here are some aspects of these oil pipeline projects that I would like to point out:
1. Water is more valuable than oil. At a time when other parts of this country and world are literally starving for clean water resources, here in Minnesota we live amongst over 10,000 fresh water lakes and wetlands. Many of the lakes located along the company’s proposed route for the pipeline corridor are some of the cleanest, least polluted lakes in the state. If one takes a look at a ground water map of Minnesota which shows the sensitivity of areas to contamination, it appears as if Enbridge intentionally chose a route for their pipelines through the most sensitive areas in the state.
2. Creating more pipelines only increases oil companies’ capacity for profit, which does not justify the risk posed to Minnesota’s clean water resources. The idea of creating more oil pipelines to alleviate congested railroad lines is a misconception as oil companies use these two transportation methods: rail and pipeline; to access different markets for their product. Most of the oil shipped by rail ends up on the coasts of our country, while much of the oil that would pass through this pipeline corridor would end up in Superior, WI or Chicago. Oil companies are going to ship their product to the places where they can make the most profit, so adding more pipelines will not necessarily eliminate the congested rail line problem. Since the recent decline of oil prices, if you pay attention around the state you will notice miles of parked oil train cars. It is time to slow down, take a step back and see how we can make the process of transporting oil safer for everyone, including the environment. What appears clear to me is that the explosive “trade secret” chemicals used in the fracking process should be eliminated completely or extracted before transport. Along with removing the explosive chemicals before transport, the train cars used to transport oil should have double hulls to eliminate the chance of leakage during a derailment. Any pipeline built in Minnesota should use a similar double hulled technology. Rather than over produce oil which saturates the market, we should encourage the scaling back of dirty “fossil” resources as the move is made to renewable energy options.
3. Why would oil pipelines ever be permitted to run through unaccessible wetland areas that would be nearly impossible to ever clean up? Enbridge’s stated response time to an oil spill is upwards of 60 hours. Can you imagine watching a ruptured pipeline leak oil into a river for 3 days straight? Another argument for the creating the pipeline corridor is the jobs that the project will create. Most of jobs that this project would create would be short term, so why not route the pipeline through southern Minnesota where the soil isn’t nearly as susceptible to contamination. The southerly route proposed by the Friends of the Headwaters would keep the builders of the pipeline employed longer, protect the more sensitive areas of the state from oil spills and create a route for the pipelines that would be more accessible when there is an oil leak.
After the recent ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals requiring a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Sandpiper pipeline, the Line 3 replacement project should have it’s own expanded environmental review to study the effects of transporting corrosive tar sands oil across the state. What a foreign corporation has proposed here is a pipeline corridor running through the heart of Minnesota’s lakes and wetlands. It is our job as custodians of the land to protect it for future generations. We must not allow the livability of our Minnesota home to be sacrificed in the name of profits for the oil industry. The oil fracking industry will leave western North Dakota an uninhabitable wasteland and if we don’t speak up and pay attention these oil pipelines could do the same to our beautiful Minnesota home.
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Aug 11, 2015 in Abandoned Scout Camp
, Dorthy Fix
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on May 7, 2015 in Dorthy Fix
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Apr 12, 2015 in Action
, Barter Fest
Now that we are past the spring equinox 2015, I would like to share a few thoughts and intentions. The connections we made through hosting a Barter Fest the last five years are truly incredible. We couldn’t have asked for more support from our family, friends and community who all participated in creating this great event. Thank you to everyone who helped us make an amazing Barter Fest in Hewitt a reality! While we have realized that it is time to retire this Barter Fest, we are hopeful that others may light a similar fire in their community.
At some point we all come to a crossroads in our life, but luckily we still have the freedom to choose which path to take. Each and every day we are presented with opportunities to change our ways. The path that I have chosen for the new year is a path of empowerment for myself and those around me. No longer will I stand by watching others disempower themselves and I challenge you to do the same!
Our life path can be perceived as a two way street. In one direction we slowly destroy ourselves or willingly allow ourselves to be destroyed. Surprisingly enough, this appears to be the paved and easy road, the one most traveled these days. Why would a society choose to promote and indoctrinate such a direction? Profit & control. As long as there is money to be made by people getting sick, there is no incentive to stop creating the causes of illness. As long as we are overworked, unhealthy and distracted, we will not pay attention to what is really happening to us and our world. Notice the scope of frequencies on this map of consciousness that you take in by watching the nightly news on your “tell-a-vision”!
It is possible to empower yourself and those around you. At first, this trail appears to be an uphill climb. The portage this way is long and hard, so you best ditch the extra baggage and self hate you’ve been carrying around all these years. Once you are free from self loathing, you can start to forgive those who have done you wrong. It is helpful to consider the cycle of patterns that have been placed over you by family and friends during your upbringing. These patterns can be passed down from generation to generation, but you do have the ability to the break these chains once and for all. Once you have broken free, you have a responsibility to help those around you do the same. When deciding what to eat, how to spend your time or who to hang out with, ask the question; does this empower or disempower me? As you strive to change direction in your life and our world, know that you are not alone in this effort. Our time here is short, so we best make the most of it! Together, may we leave behind a legacy of more beauty, truth and love!
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Mar 4, 2015 in Dorthy Fix
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Sep 17, 2014 in Abandoned Scout Camp
, Barter Fest
Performance schedule for Barter Fest’s hay wagon stage:
Open Mic 12:45- 2:15
Old School 2:15-3:00
Michael Mitchell 3:15- 3:30
Buffalo Skin 3:45-4:15
Natasha Vodkavitch 4:30-5:15
Al DeSautel 5:30-6:15
Amanda Standalone 6:30-7:15
Karen Townsend 7:15-8:00
Dorthy Fix 8:15-8:45
Duluth Spin Collective 8:45-9:30
Leon Boots 9:30-10:15
Matt Faulkingham 10:15- 10:45
Sycamore Smith 11:00-12:00 am
Indoor Schedule 504 N Front St:
Brain Washh 12:00-1:00 am
DJ Guy Jean 1:00 am – ???
The 2014 Barter Festival is made possible by the Hewitt Lions Club, the City of Hewitt and “by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultrual Heritage Fund”.
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Sep 16, 2014 in Action
, Barter Fest
Barter fest demonstration classes will be held indoors (unless noted otherwise) at 504 N Front Street Hewitt. These classes are sponsored by the New York Mill Cultural Center and are made possible “by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the Arts and Cultrual Heritage Fund”.
Kathy Connell – Seed Saving
1- 1:15 pm
Kathy Connell- Continued
1:15- 2 pm
Nikki Werner- Coptic Book Binding
Brad Wegsheid- Raku Ceramics (outdoors)
Pat Kilby- coffin making
Bruce Engebretson- spinning & weaving
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Sep 2, 2014 in Barter Fest
As always, this year’s Barter Fest flyer was skillfully made by Amber Fletschock.
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Aug 17, 2014 in Barter Fest
Are you ready for another Barter Fest?! For the fifth year in a row, individuals from around the region will gather in Hewitt, MN on September 20th, 2014 to exchange items, knowledge, talents, create new relationships and experience a menagerie of artistic entertainment. Unique to this year, the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center will co sponsor the event by hosting numerous folk school classes all day. If you’ve never made it to Barter Fest, this is the year to do it!
Bartering is so much more than a transaction and rarely are two barters the same. The act of each barter is a creation in itself, a memorable story to be shared and quite possibly the beginning of a new relationship. The practice of bartering is to assign, discuss and agree on a shared value with each transaction. Along with the liberating experience of bartering, this event will present an opportunity for you to sing songs, share a poem, story or just speak your mind on an open mic stage. Interwoven with the open format of songs and stories will be scheduled performances from a wide range of artists from the tristate area. Check back soon for a complete schedule of classes and performers for the 2014 Barter Fest!
What can I bring to barter? Here are a few ideas but don’t let these limit you; home grown food, firewood, your art, your products (what do you make?), your business (what do you do?) useful items that you no longer need, livestock, manure, straw bales, plants, antiques, honey, maple syrup, wild rice, jam, baked goods, building supplies, school supplies, clothes, jewelry…the list is endless! This is the time to celebrate the season’s bounty and a chance for us to come together before winter sets in. May our paths cross at this year’s Barter Fest!
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Jun 16, 2014 in Action
Often I like to imagine what this area was like before the settlers arrived. There is a rich, but relatively short history to be found here. Most of our communities in Todd and Wadena County were founded 100 to 150 years ago. Ever think about how humans would navigate this once great Wilderness? Well trails and rivers were their highways and while we may not live in lakes country, thankfully we have the rivers!
A few years back, on a mild November day, my wife and I threw our recently acquired canoe into the Wing River in Hewitt. For nearly three hours we drifted down the river, enjoying the bountiful wild life and vegetation living along this forgotten terrain. I am guessing that it had been awhile since anyone had braved the Wing, with all of the fallen trees and barb wire fences crossing the river. When we left on our adventure that first time, we didn’t even have a plan for how to get back to town, but thankfully we caught a ride home by the county line. Since that initial experience, we have continued to enjoy trips down the river. The head waters of the Wing are located near Parkers Prairie and the river runs to the Leaf River, emptying into the Crow Wing and finally meeting up with the mighty Mississippi. So in theory, you could travel from Hewitt to New Orleans by river!
Rivers have always been great ways to travel, but not that long ago they were also a clean source of food and water. Over the years we have turned our backs on the health of the environment and the rivers in particular. As the water ways flow through the country side, much like the blood through our veins, the rivers accumulate numerous toxins from a variety of sources. By the time the water from the Wing River reaches the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, the environment there is uninhabitable creating what is considered a “dead zone”.
I would like to see our communities be more conscience of the water sheds we live in. It is important for us to be aware of what we are draining into the rivers. The first step in accomplishing this is to get out and explore your river ways! The rivers are an untapped recreational resource in our area that are vitally connected to the future health and livability of our region. It is up to us as citizens to care and monitor what is happening with our water supplies. Only the areas of our nation that make a concerted effort to clean up and protect the environment will continue to support a healthy habitat for future generations.
Michael Dagen works and lives in what he calls, “the suburb of Wadena” aka the City of Hewitt. Michael is a song writer, audio engineer, and passionate lover of the outdoors. Dagen is married to artist Amber Fletschock and you can track their happenings at abandonedscoutcamp.com.
Article published in the Wadena Pioneer Journal on June 5th, 2014.
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Apr 23, 2014 in Abandoned Scout Camp
Being a recent transplant to this area, I see our small struggling communities as prime places to create your own opportunities. The cost of living here is low, the natural environment is bountiful and we are within visiting distance to three large cities. Oh, speaking of large cities, I am reminded: there is no traffic here! Since making this place home, I have noticed the lack of people in their twenties and thirties. Where did they all go? You guessed it, to the big cities to chase jobs, culture and education. But what if we were to convince them to stick around or come back? I can definitely relate to growing up in a small town and wanting to get away, but now I find myself in an even smaller town! Who would have guessed it?!
When the time finally came to consider life after high school, I remember not really knowing what I wanted to do for “a living”. I had the good fortune of enrolling in the post secondary program which gave me a taste of college during my senior year. I remember being coached; “if you don’t go to college in this day and age, you will never get a real job”! Well it wasn’t too long after my first year of college, that my parents told me I would have to take out a loan to continue. Being enrolled in a music industry program, I found my real passion after class by writing and recording music with friends. Even with the threat of; “you are on your own if you quite college”, I walked away and have never looked back. I liken these first independent years to a tree’s thickest grow rings. When living on your own you grow in a hurry!
Not being tied down by debt, I was able to raise enough money to take a trip to Europe and Turkey a year after dropping out of college. This experience gave me a broader perspective of this small world we share. The opportunity to see other cultures in action and have a temporary break from the same old influences is hard to beat. Staying clear of a pile of debt allows one to have experiences and take risks that wouldn’t otherwise be prudent. Getting out and seeing the world a bit, can help to foster appreciation for where you come from.
Rather than encouraging our youth to leave the area for higher education, what if we could convince them that everything they needed to succeed can be found right here? Thanks to the internet, we are more than able to connect with the world and educate ourselves for little or no cost. That said, we can’t forget about the wealth of knowledge to be found from family, friends, regional neighbors, tech schools and the local library. Maybe you share similar dreams with your children and could start a company together? Maybe you kind of like your parents and wouldn’t mind building your own house on a portion of their land to stay close to home? If you see or hear about a neighbor or local family starting a business, make a point of supporting them. If we truly desire to thrive as small communities once again, we best return to a path of interdependence. No better way to do this than by encouraging and supporting the youth in hopes of keeping their dreams, ideas and energy around.
Michael Dagen works and lives in what he calls, “the suburb of Wadena” aka the City of Hewitt. Michael is a song writer, audio engineer, and passionate lover of the outdoors. Dagen is married to artist Amber Fletschock and you can track their doings at abandonedscoutcamp.com.
Article published in the Wadena Pioneer Journal the week of March 18th, 2014.
*The mission of Barter Fest is to foster self reliance and grow community interdependence on a regional scale. Inspired by the founding mothers & fathers of rural Minnesota who built thriving communities with access to little or no paper currency, this event presents an opportunity to celebrate life’s bounty and a chance to share, trade and connect with one another.*
Barter Fest is gonna HAPPEN September 20th, 2014, so save the date dears!
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Jan 29, 2014 in Barter Fest
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Jan 1, 2014 in Amber Fletschock
A glimpse into Amber Fletschock’s process of creating the work titled “Hidden Place” at her Abandoned Scout Camp studio.
Music by Arctic Dub: https://soundcloud.com/davewesley
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Dec 21, 2013 in Abandoned Scout Camp
We finally made it to the Winter Solstice! To be honest it was starting to get hard watching the days grow shorter and shorter and shorter and SHORTER, but finally; this is as far as the darkness will take us! I admit, this is the first time in my life that I have TAKEN the time to really experience the four seasons with all their depth & beauty. One of the greatest gifts of having dogs as companions is the wonderful routine of the daily walk. No matter the weather, they get your ass out there! You never know what you might see, discover or realize when you spend a little time in nature. There is nothing better than losing yourself on a walk (or ski). Give it a try!
Not having to travel for work for a WHOLE YEAR has really given me a chance to ground myself in this place I call home. It damn near took the whole year to come to grips with the fact that I don’t have to leave! I am so very thankful to no longer be constantly uprooting my thoughts, dreams and projects. As the days grew shorter leading up to the solstice, I decided to rest and reflect on the past year, knowing that this down time would be needed so that the BEAST inside of this individual would be ready to be released!!! (Are you ready for this!?)
I feel very fortunate to come to THIS time in this life. I am no longer afraid of anything. I know who I am and why I am here. I will share and use the knowledge that I discover in this lifetime to help others. I will no longer hesitate to use all the gifts granted to this individual. I acknowledge that I do and will make mistakes. I know that I am loved and I will always aim to love, even those who I disagree with the most. I will always speak up and protect the place I call home: EARTH.
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Dec 7, 2013 in Buffalo Skin
, Dorthy Fix
It’s that cold, dark time of year again; time when the sun seems SO far away, causing the short days to meld together as we make our journey to the Winter Solstice & Longest Night Music Festival!
This will be the third year in a row Dorthy Fix will share the stage at the NY Mills Regional Cultural Center with performers from around the region.
If you have yet to experience the Longest Night Festival, you best brave the cold and get your sweetness (or bitterness;) out to see what the regional music scene has to offer!
Rumor has it, new kid in the neighborhood: BUFFALO SKIN may even make an appearance!
May your solstice be stress free and peaceful…it’s up to you to make that happen!
Posted by Ralph E. Cook on Oct 28, 2013 in Amber Fletschock
Here is a link to Amber Fletschock’s new website:
A huge thank you to Shane Reetz for the assistance!