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Getting a Little Political

December 9th, 2011

In general, I keep my political views to myself with the exception of a few friends. Recently the oil/gas industry has been moving into our county and some of the leaders in our small lake community are trying to get all of us members to sign over our mineral rights. For a while we felt like the only people who were against it until we saw a sign in our neighbors yard. We stopped and talk to them and now we’re on the committee against the oil/gas leases for our community to try to protect our lake and our community from the risk of polluted water, excess truck traffic and the host of other problems that follow in the wake of this industry.

We’re already seeing scenes like this a few miles from our home. Instead of getting stuck behind a tractor on the road it’s now gas/oil trucks flying by. There are around 250 frack water storage tanks in town right by the river and the water treatment plant. There are a few wells being drilled not that far from our home. They’re also putting in a pipeline in our county, right through the farm where we went yesterday to get our Christmas tree.

Let me explain a little about where we live. Chiot’s Run is located in a gated lake community called Lake Mohawk outside of Malvern, OH. We have a beautiful lake, beaches, ski clubs, fishing clubs, a small golf course and lots of other groups. It’s a large community with about 900 households. About two thirds of those are residents who, like us, live here year round, the rest live elsewhere with their homes here being their lake/summer homes. Many of the year-round residents have lived here their whole lives as children and now as adults. As a result it’s a varied and interesting community and our property values are quite stable and higher than the surrounding fairly depressed areas. The problem with the gas/oil industry, is the pollution that inevitably comes along with it. If our lake gets polluted, our small community is ruined. Our property values will tank and we’ll be left with quite a mess on our hands.

We have now have a sign in our yard (during the allowed sign posting times, we do have an HOA after all). We’re hoping that other residents will see our sign and know that they’re not alone in their opposition. ┬áChances are that we’re going to be on the losing side of this battle, but at least we won’t go down without making our voices heard. We won’t sign away our mineral rights here at Chiot’s Run and risk polluting our community, even if everyone else does. Sadly that means we will mostly move along to another community. We simply don’t want to live with the risks of drinking polluted water and air.

It’s been a depressing couple weeks as we talk about it. You see, we don’t really want to move. We love Ohio, we like our community, we have worked at setting deep roots over the past 13 years. We have a thriving local food web and we hesitate to leave all that behind. While we never thought we’d live out the rest of our days here at Chiot’s Run, we figured we’d always live here in eastern Ohio. It will certainly be a lot of hard work to regrow those roots in another area. When you transplant something it usually takes a season or two to bounce back to it’s original form. Last night while we were on our evening walk we talked about how we need to start looking at it as a blessing; often the toughest times in our lives turn out to make the most positive difference later down the road. Who knows where we will be five years from now, but I’m confident we’ll be enjoying ourselves and the challenges before us and I’m sure you’ll still be along for the ride!

We’re not sure what will happen or where we’ll end up, the good thing is that we’re both self-employed and work from home which means we can go anywhere with an internet connection. We’ve long talked about buying a place in Maine and may do that, but we’re open to other options (we’d love to stay in the northeast). I’m voting for somewhere close to good seafood! The good thing is that we’re proactive people, so we won’t sit around and complaining. Now the process begins of starting to get a few projects done around the house just in case we want to sell and we start planning for future possibilities.

What challenges have you been facing in your community? Any great suggestions folks? Where to go, where not to go?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.