Pristine D.C.

Back in 2011 or thereabouts, I happened to be in Washington D.C. to give a lecture. I met someone for lunch in a nice neighborhood, and on my way home took a wrong turn and got lost. Trying to find my way back to my hotel, I ended up driving through one neighborhood after another. These were fabulously expensive neighborhoods with beautifully landscaped yards. Workmen were everywhere, mowing lawns that looked like green carpeting, pushing wheelbarrows filled with new flowers to replace the ‘out of season’ ones, trimming bushes and trees, sweeping driveways, blowing leaves and miscellaneous debris into neat piles to be picked up. It was all so pristine.

I thought about my farm back home in Michigan with its dandelions, wildflowers, untrimmed trees, and the wildness of its fields. I thought about Detroit, and Flint, and the many abandoned houses I saw everywhere I went across the entire state. I thought about how I was struggling to hang onto my place, how everyone I knew was hurting financially, looking for work – any kind of work – when it suddenly struck me that the people in Washington D.C. had not even been touched by the financial collapse of 2008. They were living in a different world. They neither knew nor cared what was happening in Michigan.

I eventually found my way back, but the stark awareness of the ignorance of Washington D.C. about what it was like to lose your livelihood, your workplace, your security, and your home never left me. With the election of Trump, I wonder if Washington is going to have their own version of upheaval, loss of livelihood, workplace, security, and home.  





9 thoughts on “Pristine D.C.

  1. Penny, it is not just Washington D.C. ..What you speak of has happened , will continue. I saw personally the BP oil spill castrophe , things you cannot imagine. Living where bombs being dropped weekly, are a common place, where military missions are conducted over the Gulf, on a regular basis. The military presence is overwhelming.
    In a world where everyone seeks peace and happiness, a simple life without horror.
    When will Spirituality replace the sadness of broken Religion, that enslaves humanity to Other people’s beliefs and thoughts.?
    humbly, Drew

    • I wish I had an answer to your question, Drew. I was horrified by what I saw with the BP oil spill. As for religion, it is coming to an end. It will take a while for the truth to come out, but none of the religions are what they purport to be. Maybe I will post some excerpts from “Consciousness and Energy, Vol. 3” in hopes that more people will understand religion, sex, power, and consciousness.

  2. I assume you are well aware of the extreme polarity of other neighborhoods in D.C. Gil Scott Heron is a spokesman for that if ever there was one. So many dividing lines being drawn. I, for one, like to cross over the tracks, see both sides of the river, mingle with the rich and the poor, look for windows and do my best to break down those walls. Van Jones is doing some great work in regards to that with his MUST SEE TV show The Messy Truth.

    • Julian, some time after that trip to D.C. I was made aware of a big project to make life better for people in less affluent areas of Washington. I, too, like to see both sides of the river, but that day it was all about being lost in some very elaborate, expensive neighborhoods and the realization that sometimes we are not ‘all in this together’. As for Van, I know him personally and know that he has been working for a long time to make the world a better place. Thanks for sharing the link. I haven’t watched it because I’m out of gigabytes. Some of us do not live in places where we have unlimited access to the internet. I pay a satellite company $170/month for 25 GB of data. When it’s gone, they throttle my connection and only text will move…very slowly! But I’ll watch The Messy Truth when I get a chance!

  3. It extends beyond the Beltway into N. Virginia to Charlottesville. Truly the most beautiful landscape and farms and houses and byways I have ever seen in America. I’d attended a Steven Greer event hosted at his farm in a lower hayfield in July 2011 alongside a brook. No subdivisions or disruptive intrusions for miles. I realized everyone had money from Washington sources, for decades. As for gigabytes, I remember Newt Gingrich in 1994 foiling the telephone companies from providing internet and television, instead taking Murdoch’s lobbyist money and giving it all to cable. We still have fiber-optic cable here in rural Maine, underground, that just is for phone and internet. I don’t watch TV, so I guess it doesn’t matter. Imagine what could be with the DoDs budget.

    • Yes, I have been into northern Virginia and it’s stunning in its beauty. Even the areas that are a little older and more crowded but are preserved to maintain their colonial roots are beautiful. I drove back through Detroit a few years ago and it looked like I was driving through a war zone – everything burned out, collapsing, overflowing with trash and broken glass, empty, forlorn. I LOVED Detroit. I could have cried. I did cry. It is quiet here on the farm. And I love the raw wildness of the bush that we struggle to beat back every year because Mother Nature doesn’t waste a single minute filling in behind humans.

  4. Here in western Maine it is the same with the immediate grow back of trees, only on quartzite soils that are thin with organic matter. I have been interested in Detroit for several years because of it’s incredible geographic positioning at the juncture and beginnings of many bodies of water and rivers. How can the hub of 20th century American history just collapse? Is it the karma from supplying the weaponry for the 2 world wars? Aren’t the soils good for growing making the city a model for urban farming? Especially with the black descendants of farming people. Their abilities to grow vegetables and crops is inherent and remarkable. It comes right through their fingers into the plant itself. It takes leadership that you’d think Obama should’ve provided except that he is not representative of soils-based Americans, he is rootless! I still think Detroit is poised to resurrect with the vision and efforts of 20somethings. I only am aware of Shinola right now, but are there other small start-ups? Imagine Trump taking on Detroit, by pointing his finger at it. He doesn’t have to cut through the Mafia of Chicago politics and can start from scratch. We have to wait and see for a few months how far the rhetoric turns into reality. Every new technology we utilize must be in harmony with Nature. Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry spoke to this beautifully at the EF Schumacher talk last October. Seems as though only the mid-westerners have the reason, sanity and sobriety to observe where this nation has to direct it’s attention for the future and sustainability of us all. I’m glad the East/West coasters just fly over it!

    • Stuart, I think Detroit is a good example of what happens when there is a power-shift and a paradigm change and no one is paying attention. I don’t think Karma had anything to do with it. Detroit assumed it would never be challenged as the #1 carmaker in the world. That was a mistake.
      I agree with your comment about the Midwest having the ‘reason, sanity, and sobriety’ to see where this nation has to go. One of the women who lives here at the farm came from the East Coast. She has remarked again and again that she has been deeply shocked at how we in the Midwest love our children, how they are the most important thing in our lives…rather than getting up the career ladder. Keeping the love of children in mind, I would point out Wendell Berry’s position that we are never going to get to the point of being sustainable unless we return to “affection for one another, caring, loving one another…” for why would anyone make an effort to heal the Earth, the animals, the trees, the birds or fish if they don’t care or feel affection for anyone or any of the other creatures? We cannot lose sight of what is important, and what is important is loving, recognizing one another, and enjoying those connections.

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