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Like many of you, I am not a happy camper right now. This absolute catastrophe in the Gulf makes me sick just seeing and hearing about it; the massive scale of devastation to living creatures, the inconceivable wreckage of coastlines from not only the oil, but from the millions of gallons of chemical dispersants, the decimation of the fishing and tourist industries, lifestyles of good, decent folks ruined. Some of them are people I know.

It’s just frustrating because there’s little any of us can do to stop the oil, and the people responsible are unfortunately the most qualified and able to fix the problem. Once again, we’ve trusted the industry to police itself, believing it will act wisely in its own best interests and do the right thing. Once again, we learn the hard way that business often skips the “do the right thing” and “wisely” parts of the previous sentence to help boost the “best interests” part. When will we ever learn?

One good thing to come out of this is the increased awareness of our addiction to fossil fuels, and the danger of it. But another one—which may be even more important—is the awareness of the importance of our waters, fresh and salt. Very often it seems we are being given a choice: cheap(er) energy or fresh (unpolluted) water. Both hydrofracturing to capture natural gas, and mountaintop removal to get coal, despoil enormous amounts of fresh water, never to be reclaimed. Is it really worth it?

I’ve got water on the brain, that’s for sure, and it’s become a big part of this month’s issue. Our featured artist Christy Rupp has much to say on the subject, and she does so with verve, eloquence, and some arresting imagery. We had a great chat with Manna Jo Greene and Jeff Rumpf of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, who gave us the rundown on what’s going on with their ongoing mission, to create more awareness about the importance of our living waterways.

And the absolute highlight: meeting the indomitable Pete Seeger. It was a lot like meeting a beloved family patriarch who happens to be a folk hero. It meant the world to me and my son, Dylan, to spend some time talking with him, and he just could not have been more gracious to us.

Since then, I think of Pete when I get upset about this whole oil spill, and it helps. Pete and his Clearwater crew saw the pollution of the Hudson River in the 60s, and saw that the way to effect change would be on a personal level, using the power of music, education, and the river itself to make people FEEL the importance of saving the Hudson, not just for people to use and enjoy, but to provide a home for millions of creatures who inarguably deserve one.

Now, with the Gulf oil “spew,” more than ever we need the great minds of America—and the world—behind the vexing problem of moving away from Earth-damaging fossil fuels toward greener solutions (sorry, not nukes), while insuring clean water: the most precious life-giving substance on the planet. Guess it’s also time to get some big sloops out on the Gulf, to show the next generation how royally we screwed things up with our oil addiction, our carelessness. Hopefully there will be some creatures still living out there to study.

Better stop now before my personal mercury rises again. I’m frustrated, feeling both powerless and partially guilty, as someone who contributes to the demand for that which is now killing other beings. So I’m thinking about going down to the Clearwater Great Hudson River Revival 2010, to see and hear some great music, and sing along with Pete and the crew. Thinking about what good things can happen when people who care work together. Thinking about the power of song, how it can bring folks together, can bring life to the words we all need to hear, to speak. In harmony.

Much better. Still…there’s much work to be done.

Cheers, Ross Rice
Editor, Roll Magazine

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