The Power of Place for Health

I just viewed Jerry Monkman’s film, “The Power of Place”, a documentary that combines interviews with experts and NH residents with awesome cinematography of the places that would be impacted by the Northern Pass. The film triggered the memory of my drive west several years ago, to spend nine months volunteering in the Tetons.

As I left New York State and picked up Route 80 West, Big Sky presented itself. What made Big Sky so obvious were the cobwebs of power lines replacing trees all the way from Ohio to Rock Springs, WY. There, I headed north, leaving the flatlands and smothering web. After I passed the stench of the last cattle holding pen area and the beginning of hill country, a miracle happened.

I entered an enchanted forest, enchanted because I drove past plants, shrubs and trees I’d never seen before, all arranged by nature’s finest landscaper and thriving on sandy soil. The hills became small mountains and then everything grew and all of a sudden, I felt energized, not tired after a long drive. November gave way to wild winter experiences and I learned to share space with moose, bison, elk, antelope and so much more.

I was amidst people who valued that shared experience. When they flashed their high beams on the road at night, it was to warn that a herd of elk or other wild life was up ahead, time to slow down. In Kelly, WY, where I lived, if you saw a dog asleep in the middle of the road, you drove carefully around it so as not to disturb its nap.

Viewing the Monkman film in Bethlehem, I was again in the midst of people who value the land and the opportunity to share it with the rest of the natural world. It was a relief to be there with them and to be viewing the mountains that always energize me, especially when I hike the peaks and ridges here in NH. Thanks to the AMC and WMNF, our north country is laced with maintained trails that are free for everyone, and provide rest and renewed energy to NH folks as well as people from all over the world, who still come here to recharge.

This mountain energy is threatened, not only by the Northern Pass, but ISO New England’s plan for a suffocating web of power lines blanketing our whole state, including our forests. When I saw the ISO New England prospective power grid for the first time a few years ago, I cringed at the thought that our state could ever become like Route 80 West – desolate.

When I check out products on the internet, I cringe at the Northern Pass ads that are plastered over websites, full of empty promises. I wonder how many times Hydro Quebec/Eversource Energy has paid out the cost of buried lines in advertizing alone. They must really plan to make a bundle if they can ever fool enough people to just let them in the door.

Solar and yet to be developed sources of renewable energy definitely threaten the monopoly power companies have held over us. Future projections of reasonable rates from alternative sources mean we will have choices that spread the wealth instead of being at the mercy of a monopoly. Such choices will enable us to share this land as a health sustaining space for all life.

Time to continue contacting legislators with requests to fund development of new sources of energy that respect all life. Bottom line: how can our efforts bring a better deal for everyone? Therein lies the possibility for real health and happiness.

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