Thursday, August 01, 2013

sidelong or head on...

Rousseau had advised that a young man put in a woodshop would benefit from the collaborations of brain and hand thus becoming a philosopher as well as a craftsman.

On the SWEPCO front, some of us had been wondering where an important letter could be found in which the US Army Corp of Engineers informed the power company SWEPCO, that three of their proposed routes were being summarily rejected from consideration. We knew that since the letter was not being made readily available to us, there must be other important things in it. Yesterday we found it hidden in plain sight, mulched in with a number of other letters on the Arkansas Public Service Commission website so few would notice its existence, and most certainly all would presume its unimportance. It has been difficult for me to consider the burying of this letter as anything but a deliberate act.  I could be inclined to take that as a sign of collusion between the applicant and the state commission that is supposed to regulate it. I hope my inclination to assume collusion is in error. I've written the judge, the APSC lawyer and chief of staff to ask that the letter be more prominently posted and given the proper consideration it deserves.

The Corp of Engineers letter informs the utility company and the Arkansas Public Service Commission that the Environmental Impact Statement for the project is lacking in sufficient quality to allow any of the proposed routes to be used without further, more extensive study. In other words, if the Public Service Commission takes its job seriously, the project could and should be summarily dismissed.

That would be a tremendous relief.

Meanwhile back in the wood shop. I've cut and planed strips of hardwood from which my usual production run of small boxes will be made. I am currently cutting small parts, each of which will receive a variety of milling operations in order that they will fit each other. I've done all this so many times. And yet it cannot be mindless. I must carefully examine each piece as its cut, so that any flaws in the material can be discarded without unnecessary waste. In a way craftsmanship is akin to prayer. It pulls the thoughts into the here and now... into the essential moment in which we exercise the greatest power.

Working against a utility company is no piece of cake. They have powerful legal teams. They have the advantage of regular if not cozy relationships with governmental regulators. They have unlimited resources. They have the advantage of catching folks like us by surprise and at a complete disadvantage.

And on the other hand, I've never before seen what I see in SWEPCO's application. In my wood shop, I can screw up, acknowledge my mistakes and make an effort to fix things... That's not what we're likely to see from American corporations.

There is a Chinese saying that applies to this... If you perceive evil, rather than confront it directly, thus becoming ensnared by it and immobilized by it, simply proceed to do the good. There is no doubt that in the wood shop, we are empowered to do good things, and in that, refreshment of spirit can be found.  Another Rousseau quote to paraphrase in conclusion... when the hands and mind are equally engaged in learning, each refreshes the other. Sometimes the sidelong effort can lead to better results, and time in the wood shop is never a waste.

Make, fix and create...

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