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Walnut Hill 2017

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Sandra Steingrabber's First Letter From Jail

 Sorry these posts are not in order.  I was asked when she was going to jail....she is there.
Stay tuned.  More info on her website.

LETTER FROM CHEMUNG COUNTY JAIL, PART 1
by SANDRA STEINGRABBER, April 18, 2013:
When Henry David Thoreau spend a night in jail for civil disobedience–defining
the term in the process–he was served chocolate and brown bread for breakfast. The tray
that was slid under my bars at 5:00 am. this morning contained nothing as tasty. In fact,
I’d be hard pressed to say what the ingredients were. Packets of instant hot coca
(artificial) are available from the commissary for a price–along with ramen noodles, decaf
coffee, Jolly Rogers, shampoo, pencils, envelopes and paper.
There is no window in my cell. The lights are on all night. The television is on all
day. Through the bars that make up the fourth wall of my new living quarters, I have a
view of the catwalk, which is patrolled by guards, and then another wall of bars, and
beyond those bars is a window made up of small panes of opaque glass. At about seven
o’clock, one of the inmates asked for fresh air, and the guard, whom everyone calls
Murphy’s Law, cranked open the grid of panes, just a little.
Now, I can stand at my own bard, and move my head in different
directions–jumping up and down works the best–and see through the scrims of multiple
layers of bars– a glimpse of the outside world. There are row houses with windows and
no bars–which fact suddenly seems miraculous–and I thought I saw a bird fly by. No
trees through; only slinky–like concertina wire. Somewhere, beyond the shouting of the
television, there are church bells.
Thoreau said, about his own experience with incarceration, that the confinement of
his physical self was inconsequential; the freedom was a state of mind. Or something like
that. I have neither the book, nor Google, to help me fact--check. But I am very aware of
my physical self, and sense that my biological life in jail is part of my message. Even
though I am entirely cut off from everything, I know and love my children and my
husband, the April return of birdsong and wildflowers and pollination and photosynthesis.
I believe this is the place to speak about fossil fuel extraction in general and fracking
infrastructure in specific.-2-
I now inhabit an ugly, miserable, loud and ungraceful world. There are no
flowers; no local, delicious food; no tranquil landscapes; and not even coffee or tea.
If we do not want New York to become a prison of wellheads, pipelines and
compressor stations; if we do not want the violence of climate change instability and
mass species extinction; if we do not want to leave our children a diminished world bereft
of frog song, bees, coral reefs, sea ice; then coming to a place as far removed from the
rhythms of the natural world as a jail cell is not an inappropriate place to say so.

1 comment:

  1. It seems Sandra is able to get her written words out somehow, can she also receive any? This is wonderful writing, passionate, and her research is very thorough.One brave lady, who deserves support from us all. Thanks Lori for posting this, we have fracking in NZ, and many people are concerned.Our Minister for the Environment says, quote courtesy of the internet,"If any new alarming reports on fracking come to hand she will reconsider her decision", this is that fracking has been given a green light to go ahead, without calling for a moratorium, or further investigation. Greetings to all, Jean

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