Posted by: Juliana Williams | June 28, 2010

Attack of the Sticky Menace

Written 27 July 2010

Sixteen hundred ducks flew over the Canadian sky in the annual migration to their mating grounds, guided by genetic compasses, as they had for millennia. Instead of cool, dark forest as far as the bird’s eye view could see, smokestacks pumping out heavy black fumes and tangles of pipelines carrying modern day alchemy stretch for miles. You see, the earthmovers had discovered a way to turn tar into gold.

Where once had grown the one of the richest ecosystems on the planet, now refineries and boom towns and pit mines have taken hold like any other invasive species. That’s right, the tar sands are the Asian carp of Canada. And despite our best efforts, they show now signs of going away. Fifteen years of reckless and drunken expansion have led to the most destructive project on the face of the planet. And, you know what the world for unrestricted growth is? Cancer.

But to the ducks winging their way home, they only saw a choice between landing on pit mines and machinery or those large, still lakes that stretch for miles. Kind of a no-brainer for these birdbrains. But as they settled to rest and feed, the water began to burn their bodies, the thick oily scum on the surface gummed up their wings and eventually dragged them under. Those sixteen hundred birds never flew again.

Two years later, a judge declared that Syncrude was the culprit and the toxic tailings the instrument of this avian annihilation. The cause for celebration was that the corrupting influence of tar sands finally failed to evade environmental responsibility. But what restitution came from the case? Not to clean up the sludge lakes. Not to find a way to eliminate the waste. No, Syncrude must simply erect scarecrows and airhorns to scare ducks away.

The tragedy is that there is no one to scare the greedy earthmovers from their addiction to black gold.

Posted by: Juliana Williams | June 11, 2010

These Things

Written 11 June 2010

These things we do
To take a wrong and make it right,
Or slightly less wrong,
Give us hope that before long,
Progress will be made,
A little happiness will be saved.

These things we do
To push ourselves towards greatness,
Or at least adequacy,
Instill in us a vibrancy
That once our dreams are manifest,
Eventually, we can rest.

But these things we do
To appease the conscience and enrich the soul
Require undying care
Lest the spirit be swept away by despair
Or a complacent daze.
These things we do may never end
But would you have it any other way?

Posted by: Juliana Williams | June 10, 2010

Just between you and me

Written 14 May 2010

Ice blue on a backdrop of weathered tan stops me in my tracks.
Like a dirty window, the lightness of your eyes masks the depths I know are back there.  No chocolate gaze, rich and inviting.  No exotic jade, full of mystery.
Just ice, holding me at a distance.

Posted by: Juliana Williams | March 19, 2010

Midwest, Underrated

I’ve known for a while that the Midwest is way cooler than most people give it credit for.  This recent article affirms that conclusion and highlights sweet Midwest cities that have thrived despite the global economic recession.  And of course, number one is my former home, Des Moines IA! Having lived through election frenzy and the aftermath, I can tell you that Des Moines is a surprising city that will make you happy.  Oh, and there are some other good cities in the Midwest, too.

Posted by: Juliana Williams | March 19, 2010


Written 19 March 2010

Cascadia, Sawtooth, Wasatch
Lift more than their rocky roots skyward.
Is it any wonder their peaks inspire
The many aspirations of ordinary folk?

For conquest, that heady thrill of victory.
For glory, to revel in such majesty.
For adventure, teeming with hidden havens.
For comfort, an earthly compass more constant than that of the heavens.

Appalachia, Adirondack, Wallowa
Command and nurture humility
As they provide sustenance for body and spirit.
My dearest mountains, you bring me home.

Posted by: Juliana Williams | February 11, 2010

The Great Ones

The Great Work is not to be done in the halls of Congress
nor on any battlefield.
It does not come with Power or Influence
or any such ideal with a capital letter.

It is not achieved by shouting from mountaintops or rooftops
but rather through murmurs,
those simple and persistent ideas that whisper
through our social webs, slowly shaking the threads
that connect us,
until we hum with a resonance that
makes the very foundation of society tremble.

Resilient voices that doggedly refuse to be silent, and
their owners who face contempt, mockery, and backlash
for their impudence
are the ones who refresh our faith in mankind
and together accomplish the great work of the world.

Posted by: Juliana Williams | January 30, 2010

bin Laden Hates Global Warming, Global Warming Hates Him

Osama bin Laden is quite probably the most hated and vilified figure in the American consciousness.  And rightly so.

The man has said that he wants to destroy the America’s global economic dominance.  Today he took aim at the United States’ failure to curb carbon emissions.

To stop global warming, he called for the “wheels of the American economy” to be brought to a halt. “This is possible … if the peoples of the world stop consuming American goods.”

First off, even if the American economy came to a halt, emissions would still rise, global consumption would rise and the US would be deprived of its capacity to transition to clean energy.  If he really wanted to help the “tens of millions [driven] into poverty and unemployment” he would not seek to tear down the markets required to produce clean energy.  Access to reliable energy is directly associated with raising living standards.  Unless bin Laden wants the world’s population to continue using  fossil fuels, he must recognize the need for clean energy development, which requires investment and robust markets.

I have to conclude that his strategy is not to stop global warming, but rather to draw broader global support for his anti-American efforts.  What better way to wreak havoc and chaos in the nation of his enemies than to associate himself with one of the fastest growing sectors of the US economy: clean energy.

After all, bin Laden is the new Hitler.  Folks throw his name around when they want to paint something or someone as un-patriotic, irrational or evil.  By highlighting the climate challenge, bin Laden opens the floodgates for climate deniers to claim that taking action on climate issues is now un-American, anti-American and that seeks to destroy the economy.

These claims of course are untrue, offensive and unacceptable.

But they sure as hell create yet another barrier to developing a clean energy economy (added to fossil fuel interests entrenched in Congress, a tough investment environment and the infuriatingly slow pace of climate negotiation).

So while yes, the US has shirked its responsibility to tackle climate change, I cannot see how bin Laden’s call to action actually advances this goal.  Instead, Osama bin Laden just handed the enemies of clean energy a grenade launcher, which they eagerly received.

Posted by: Juliana Williams | January 16, 2010


Written 16 Jan 2010

Man creates competition,
Glory and victory for some barely attainable goal
Because life has ceased to be a challenge,
The thrill of existence no longer sustains
Passion for life.

Adrenaline pumps through my veins
Same as any other on earth
But what makes it surge?
Life and death balancing acts
Of our own choosing and not.

Clinging to a mountain, at the mercy of the elements
I throw caution to the same wind
That seeks to pull me from the rock.
But with luck I am stronger still. I must
Quell survival instinct for that momentary elation.

And what of it? Victory over nature?
Day in and day out billions refuse
To left life slip through their grasp
And raise a doggedly determined head
To face a new dawn.

Yet adventure feels more chosen
More in my control than simple living.
We practice perseverance
To make it second nature
For undesired and undeserved crises.

Posted by: Juliana Williams | December 17, 2009

A Tribute to Justin Key

A friend of mine passed away this week. I met him in first grade and he was one of the very few people I went to elementary, middle and high school with.  He was a wonderful human being who brightened many lives.  Above all else, this is how I remember him.

“Jeez, learn how to take a joke.”

He said those words so many times that they were permanently imprinted in my memory. They spoke to both my solemnity and his playfulness. Whenever that line came out, it hurt in a way. Obviously whatever he had said offended me. But it wasn’t his fault; he was joking. Was I not fun to be around?

It wasn’t until he wrote it in my 6th grade yearbook that he finally got through to me. Seeing those words like a brand seared onto my identity forced me to reconcile with the notion that I, in fact, did take life far too seriously.

I was twelve.

After that year we stopped taking the school bus together, that daily ritual of forced camaraderie. We grew apart, and we grew up. Passing each other in the halls of high school, no longer good friends, there was still a recognition that you never really lose the bonds of childhood.

Eventually, I learned to take a joke and I like to think that every time I laugh some part of him lives on through me.

Posted by: Juliana Williams | November 29, 2009


Tonight I finished my novel.  At 50,656 words and 105 pages, it is one of the most remarkable projects I have undertaken.  This doesn’t diminish my work as an organizer, but rather complements it, as a personal challenge that I alone could accomplish.  Through my experience of writing a novel I stumbled across what might well turn out to be my next big project for the year. I learned how to simply write and write and write even if I didn’t want to.   I discovered that the internet is a giant time suck (though I did know that before).  I pushed myself to be creative in a way that I had never experienced before and frankly, I might be addicted to it.  I could go on, but I’ll spare you the gushy details.

Instead, if you would like to read this novel that I’ve been waxing poetic over for the past month, entitled The Rising Loaf, just let me know and I will gladly send you a copy.

I encourage you to get out of your box and do something crazy.  If only for a month.

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