Water For Life, Not For Profit Theme Unauthorized At Maine’s Bicentennial Parade

Lead organizer Luke Sekera-Flanders and educator Jake Kulaw carry a water defense banner in Lewiston Aug 21, 2021 created for Community Water Justice by the Artists Rapid Response Team (ARRT!). Photo credit: Nickie Sekera


A breathtakingly hot bicentennial celebration parade saw 100+ vehicles belching CO2 into the atmosphere as it wound its way from Auburn to twin city Lewiston yesterday in Maine.


Bringing up the rear was Community Water Justice walking entry “Bicentennial B-roll: The Villagers vs. The Pillagers!” (There were good banners in need of carrying, so I decided to leave my pitchfork in the car.)


It was a parade dominated by the corporate entities who treat Maine as a resource extraction colony: among them Poland Springs, the odious Central Maine Power, and Casella waste “management” i.e. trucking in construction debris from away and incinerating it as Maine-sourced waste.


We were an unauthorized entry to the parade and police twice ordered us out of the street, which we ignored. (Yes, white people can get away with that.)


Many people clapped and cheered our message, and twice at different points on the parade route someone shouted, “They saved the best for last!” As police tried to shoo us away the audience shouted, “Let them march!”
Besides our banners we wore or carried Stolen Spring logos, Maine Natural Guard, and “God bless the corporations for giving us candidates.”

photo credit: Nickie Sekera

Getting press coverage was the usual struggle (one sentence in the Lewiston Sun Journal, crickets elsewhere) but Luke was well-prepared with a press release. An excerpt:


The parade…is sponsored by many of Maine’s worst environmental offenders, including Poland Spring (who is the headline sponsor), Casella, and Central Maine Power. Nestle recently sold Poland Spring to a pair of private equity firms now operating as BlueTriton Brands, playing Wall Street games with our water sources. These companies’ sponsorship of the bicentennial celebrations showcases the State of Maine’s relationship with these polluting corporations, and presents a great opportunity to show solidarity in our collective struggle for a healthier future. While many residents are aware of individual issues such as the CMP Corridor, industrial fish farms, Casella, Metallic Mining or Poland Spring bottled water, they are not aware of the larger context – that Maine’s environment is the target of exploitative international private interests.

Beyond being detrimental to Maine’s long-term economic, environmental and social stability, 

these corporations’ presence in Maine is contradictory to any reasonable path to mitigating the effects of harmful changes in our climate. 

Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report, revealing that the key window for action to prevent the worst effects of climate change is within the next decade. Its findings confirm what Indigenous and environmental activists have been saying for decades – unless we dramatically reduce carbon emissions and pollution, we will face the consequences. 


The purpose of this action is to engage the public with the reality and urgency of Maine’s position as an object of corporate hyperfocus, and elevate the struggles for Indigenous sovereignty, water security, and environmental health into the public eye.


Indigenous sovereignty might save us if we listen in time. How much indigenous wisdom was evident at this celebration of Maine’s statehood? None that I saw besides our messaging. I know that Penobscot elders were holding a water ceremony that day, and also that former chief Barry Dana regards the bicentennial as a celebration of the long colonial genocide on Native people of the region.

When I was a small child in Maine it seldom got hot enough for swimming, according to my California girl mother. Yesterday in Lewiston-Auburn it was a 89 degrees and very humid. 


But why worry about all the carbon-belching parade vehicles and the lead sponsorship by Poland Spring, formerly owned by the multinational water extractor Nestle. 


The banner Luke carried had been modified to reflect that private equity water investors doing business as Blue Triton now own Poland Springs water extraction sites in Maine. What could go wrong? 

Health Care Workers Who Won’t Get COVID Vax To Be Out Of A Job In Maine

My status updates on spybook seldom get much attention, but lately almost anything about COVID choices gets a lot of comments and clicks (and a gratuitous offer of COVID information I can trust? I’ll pass.) 

Yesterday I had a mildly shocking experience receiving health care and I posted this:

The context here in Maine is that our governor has given health care workers notice that, unless they are vaccinated, they will have to stop working in health care. 

If you think this should be a foregone conclusion, you haven’t been paying attention.

There have already been two protests in Maine cities with hundreds of health care workers marching for their right to get up close and personal to administer health care without being vaccinated.

I have persistently shared my theory that the underlying purpose of COVID was to divide the 99% against one another so that the 1% can continue their reign of austerity for us and obscene wealth for them. That, too, has gotten a lot of clicks and shares so it will probably be taken down as misinformation soon (read it here while you can).

Many of the comments I cannot agree with, but I let the debates rage on because

I’m genuinely curious to know how other people understand this health crisis and the optimum ways to respond.

Both right wingers and liberals tend to be really nasty with the name-calling, insults, and generalized lack of respect for other people. I think that’s sad and I never “like” that kind of language. Every genocide and civil war begins with dehumanizing language aimed at “others.”

I am reminded of a theory I encountered recently: holding demonstrably false ideas in public is a way of signaling loyalty to your group, thus conferring an evolutionary advantage. If true, this explains a lot. Especially how 45 became more popular with his fan base for tweeting lies that everyone knew were lies. If you want to check out this theory, you can read about it here.

A ubiquitous comment from both sides wonders how the others could be so stupid.

This is an ableist comment unless what they really mean is ignorant. No, stupid and ignorant aren’t synonyms. One means unable to use reasoning well and the other means lacking information. People with developmental delays in cognition are not uneducated but they are differently abled. As for what happened with public education in the U.S., don’t get me started.

An anecdote from pre-COVID days:

I once learned how to use an app for making online quizzes. Another learner and I took a sample quiz where one of the math questions depended on knowing the order of operations i.e. PEMDAS. The other learner doubted the answer and it bugged them enough that they brought it up to me later. I explained why I thought it was the right answer using PEMDAS and then added, “______ was a math major and is our IT director so I’m pretty sure if he and I disagree about the answer to a math problem, he’s gonna be correct.” I could tell that this did not resolve the other learner’s skepticism. They trusted my answer — I was a literacy coach — more than his! Possibly because they had a closer relationship with me than with the IT director? Who really knows.

Distrust of experts — even in an education setting — has been with us for a while.

And it can be deadly. 

Maine legislator Rep. Chris Johansen continues to go into crowds unmasked and to fight vaccines and masking requirements for large gatherings despite the fact that both he and his wife contracted COVID. His wife died.

Then there’s the fact that the No Child Behind Act, passed with bipartisan support during George W. Bush’s adminstration, took an ax to both science and social studies education. It did this by preferencing reading and math for the test-and-punish regime that enriched for-profit testing corporations. Science clawed its way back via STEM and other intitiatives from the outside world, but much damage had  been done. And social studies has never really recovered. 

That explains a lot, too, doesn’t it? It’s clear how even many elected officials really don’t know the structures of government or understand their role in that structure. Once big money controlled all three branches of government at the federal level, and many if not all state legislatures, the old civics lesson on “how a bill becomes a law” became a lie anyway.

It would probably be elitist of me to point out that it isn’t doctors or registered nurses (RN) refusing to get vaccinated for the most part. 

Here in Maine it’s the much less educated health care providers who are the refuseniks e.g. certified nursing assistants (CNAs), lab technicians, hospital kitchen workers, group home attendants, and the like.

My sister works at the leading research hospital in northern California as an RN and has for years. I value her information and advice because so far it has been ahead of the curve i.e. the intel that she passes on from the epidemiologists at her hospital anticipates what eventually the CDC gets around to recommending. I’m guessing this is because UCSF researchers care about health rather than about commerce, while the CDC must serve two masters.

Meanwhile, every school district in Maine — and there are a lot of them — has been thrown to the wolves to hold the line for science amid shouts, threats, and jeers of uneducated and/or ignorant parents.

Then there’s the big picture context.

Source: https://twitter.com/OpinionatedLab/status/1426296638654619648

Lies are the currency of the day. Big lies, ones that can kill you.

Well, after all this gloom and doom I feel moved to end on a lighter note. No idea who created this gem:

Source: https://www.facebook.com/snarkavenue/photos/a.397515703684731/3517531905016413/