The state of my home state, North CarolinaThe month of June was an absolute whirlwind. I was hoping to get to some of my own creative work in June but I found myself swept up on North Carolina state politics. Since 2010, when the Republicans won a majority of seats in the state House and Senate (controlling both houses for the first time in more than 100 years), the new leaders have been on a tear with terrible legislation. Our Democratic Governor Bev Perdue has done her best to bring some balance to this situation but it has been very difficult, dealing not only with the Republican opposition, but also some Democratic legislators who broke ranks in a big way.
I care so much about my state, and this is really a new thing for me, to absolutely love my state and never want to move. I moved a lot growing up, usually living in one place no more than four our five years. I attended five different schools by the time I was in 8th grade.
But now in North Carolina, we have put down strong and deep roots, both on a personal level, raising our daughter here for 12 years, and on a professional level. We’ve made a huge family investment by building the Manifold Recording studio in Pittsboro. It is a dream come true project for us, one that required five years of time and treasure to build. Now Michael and I are like Ray and Annie Kinsella in Field of Dreams, living out the “if you build it, they will come” aspect of the project. It is going very well. This is our home and we never want to leave.
BUT. But at the same time, our state is under fire from many directions. So in May and June I found myself investing a lot of time in statewide causes, particluarly the effort to stop fracking from being legalized in North Carolina. You can read my previous informational posts on fracking:
What you need to know about Fracking in 400 words or less
This spring, I started a Facebook page, Don’t Frack North Carolina — Citizens Say No to Fracking in NC, which really took off in May and June. The page has grown into a community of more than 4100 people who “like” it, and that adds up to a viral outreach of more than 1 million “friends of friends.” We sent many letters and made calls to the Governor and legislators to try to stop the pro-fracking bill. We had a brief victory when Governor Bev Perdue vetoed the bill. I am truly, truly grateful to the Governor for taking this courageous stand. But then the worst possible outcome came when the legislature voted to overturn the veto and it was overturned by ONE vote. As if that’s not bad enough, some Democrats voted to over-ride the veto, and two in particular stand out. Representative Becky Carney of Mecklenburg accidentally voted YES instead of NO and the Republicans would not let her correct the mistake. And Representative. Susi Hamilton of New Hanover county voted to overturn the veto under pressure that reportedly involved cutting a deal to get $60 million in film tax breaks for Wilmington. Now I love the film industry in North Carolina–but it should have nothing to do with whether fracking is allowed! Democrats were furious after seeing Hamilton give a fellow legislator a “high-five” after the film tax breaks passed. She really sold out the environment in the whole state in a case of brazen political dealing. I hope she realizes that her district is directly down stream from the frack target zone. Environmental problems from fracking will flow right into the Cape Fear River in HER back yard. Hamilton was supposed to be an environmentalist. The League of Conservation Voters had just given her a “rising star” award in June, which they swiftly revoked after Hamilton’s vote in favor of opening our state to fracking.
To say I feel demoralized right now is an understatement. I am very discouraged, but not giving up. My natural optimism has taken a blow. I no longer feel that things will naturally get better, that worst case scenarios will inevitably be avoided, that our leaders will be wise and ultimately do the right thing. I am probably more realistic–this will be a hard fight and a long road to travel. I miss my can-do, “Mojo Mom” optimism as applied to protecting my home state. It fueled me. But now I am faced with a grittier, flintier reality. The Democrats are in deep trouble. The Republicans are on an ALEC-fueled tear. I am in the process of trying to figure out how I can make the biggest contribution I can with my time, talents and energy. I will be working hard to re-elect President Obama and devoting serious time to several of my statewide causes.
At the same time, it’s time to get back to my own work. I have good things developing over at www.DoingRightByOurKids.com that I will be sharing here. As I told my co-creator Irene van der Zande last time we talked, politics is very frustrating because you can work hard and lose, or see progress go backward. When you teach people about protecting child safety, giving them a solid framework, excellent information, and tools for respectful relationship building, you are making progress that will move forward to create better communities. So that is the kind of work I need to be doing in balance with my political activities. Onward…..
[correction, July 10: an earlier version of this post mixed up the words "overturned" and "sustained" in regards to Governor Perdue's veto. This updated version correctly states that Democrats Becky Carney and Susi Hamilton voted to over-ride the Governor's veto.]