A Garden Party, Book Launch and Fundraiser

December 14 | Posted by Jeff | The Leaky Land Blog

Fighting Dirty-19540The following article was published in the Scoop’s December 2017/ January 2018 edition.

A Garden Party, Book Launch and Fundraiser
By Jeff Whan

It was one of those magical fall days when the air is crisp and clear, the sun is warm, and the colours provide the backdrop. We were gathered at the glorious SpindleTree Gardens in the Orangery to celebrate the arrival of a new book: Fighting Dirty – How a Small Community Took On Big Trash.

Poh-Gek Forkert’s book chronicles an incredible adventure of bad guys (Waste Management) vs. good guys (our community), massive resources vs. massive resourcefulness, greed vs. science, the failures of our provincial and municipal governments and the importance of vigilance. It shows what can be done against the odds when people care deeply and work like crazy as a team.

Our venue was donated by Tom Brown and Susie Meisner. Immaculately groomed, the gardens and buildings at SpindleTree were a perfect setting for the festivities. One hundred and twenty people gathered. Old hands and new arrived with a common spirit and deep caring about the future of our community and the environment. It was an amazing experience.

The dump-fighting team transformed themselves that day and the weeks preceding it into party organizers, auctioneers, book sellers, cooks, servers, bartenders, party hosts, accountants, video producers, ticket sellers, and party participants.

Delectable hors d’oeuvres, made from natural local ingredients and prepared under the direction of volunteer chef Colette Drisdale, included Maple Glazed Pickerel with Acadian Sturgeon Caviar Mousse and Red Wine Poached Pear with Highland Blue Cream. Also enjoyed were local wine, cider and beer and a cheese table featuring savoury breads by Janet Whan and cheese donated by local artisans. The beer was donated and served by the McKinnon Brothers.

Evocative and ethereal music was provided by renowned Mohawk musician David Maracle. Introduced by the inspirational Mike Bossio, Poh-Gek read from her book. She described an early meeting of the Concerned Citizens, at which David’s father told this story: “He emphasized everyone’s obligation to leave as few footprints as possible on the land, and he described a Mohawk family out for a walk on a snowy day. The father walked in front and the mother walked behind, placing her feet in his footsteps in the snow. The children followed, placing their feet in the footprints left by the father and mother. He ended by saying that soon he would be walking with the greatest man who ever walked the earth.”

Andrew Maracle collapsed at the meeting that night and was pronounced dead soon after at the Belleville hospital. This story, as read by Poh-Gek, struck an emotional chord that was reinforced when David played a beautiful song in tribute to his father. David’s wonderful music was highly appropriate because the dump fight has been conducted arm in arm with Chief Maracle and the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, who live downstream from the dump. Many people living on Mohawk territory and near the dump rely on wells for their drinking water and their farm animals. They do not have the option of moving away from the pollution caused by the dump.

The afternoon featured a silent auction. Many businesses and individuals generously donated items which were assembled by the auction team of Barb Linds and Marilyn Carey. We had art from Chris Broadhurst and Kylie Sandford, ceramics from Harlan House, lunch and wine tasting from Norman Hardie, jewelry from Starlet, Sens hockey tickets and many more treasures. With admission, donations and proceeds from the silent auction, more than $14,000 was raised to pay the costs of retaining the excellent scientific team that have provided the winning arguments so key to our success.

Most of us care deeply about our legacy. We want to do more about the environment, but struggle to find a way to make a real difference. That day, our community gathered to make a difference. It was an emotional moment in time; the warriors had returned from battle to graciously accept the thanks from everyone. But the war isn’t over.

Meanwhile back at the dump: It is leaking and Waste Management and their consultants cannot determine where the toxins are going. We do know that it is leaking off Waste Management property, putting the company in violation of their Environmental Compliance Certificate. Since the off-site contamination was confirmed years ago Waste Management and the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change have been unsuccessfully attempting to define its limits.

In the context of the mess we now have at the closed dump, it seems preposterous that there is a proposal on the books to expand the site to be large enough to take most of Toronto’s garbage. This proposal is still pending. Waste Management will not withdraw it. The MOE will not revoke the Terms of Reference that describe it. The Minister of the Environment recently refused a joint request by Tyendinaga and Greater Napanee to meet with him to discuss it. The war is not yet over.

In summary we would like to thank everyone, volunteers, donors, and attendees, who made this day so awesome. We wish our battle was over but it is not. We cannot and must not ever give up this fight.


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