January 2017 archives


Barbara Turk

Ever take the parachute plunge? Ever bungee from a bridge?? Well, July 30, 2014 four UU’s were among 13 Greenpeace USA volunteers who were dangler-dos high above the Willamette River.  Knowing Portland’s St. Johns Bridge (it tops out at 230-feet above the river), is to know engineering, majesty, and beauty. To see it with the protestors, gear and flowing yellow and red banners, it was WOW! Some called it more, “Keep Portland Weird”.

Their effort: Keep the Shell Royal Dutch oil drilling rig from departing a Portland dry dock to head to Alaska for late season drilling.) Elizabeth Mount, a UU seminarian at Meadville-Lombard Theological School in Chicago, and 12  other Greenpeace volunteers, were dangler-dos for 40 hours high over the majestic river…a lot of time for Mount to reflect on UU values, and climate change activities. Her UU logo tee resulted in other UU’s identifying themselves. Mount stated, “I didn’t get within 75-feet of another human being for 40 hours”. Later she added, “I don’t think we’ll ever get every single thing we ask for when we do direction action, but when we move into that courageous space and try to do what we think would be the best thing, we get something. It moves the dial, and it’s worth it”. (Direct  impact: The ship and corporation were denied the ability to make statements to shareholders as to how much oil  they think is in the Arctic, thus making for an, “unsuccessful survey this season”.)

Law enforcement became involved. Mount and two others (suspended over the river’s deepest part) were given the option of descending by their own equipment, or being forced down. Mount descended onto a Coast Guard ship, was handcuffed, and received a citation. But first, an amusing moment for Mount came from the Coast Guard ship beneath her. Coast Guard: “You are trespassing, and you are unwelcome! Please descend from the bridge.” Mount’s thought: “Trespassing, I’m not concerned about. But, if I’m unwelcome…”.

Our own board member, Cherie Swenson, moved, “into that courageousspace trying to do what we think would be the best thing”, and move that dial. She prepared to go with Oregon’s Rural Organizing Project and 49 others to Standing Rock, ND on December 9th. Then, we all know what happened. (Corps of Engineers & weather.) But, you can be certain she’ll have lots to share with us this New Year. WISHING ALL A VERY HAPPY ONE!