The Expulsion of a Community’s People - The Writing of Falmouth History
Years from now, folks won’t remember it being taught in school or won’t remember it being mentioned at all, though this event, arguably, may become the saddest in Falmouth 327 year memory of local town government.
Two Wind Turbine options must be weighed by Selectmen, and possibly Town Meeting Members, and possibly Citizens. The options outcome, if either are adopted, will pave the way for what our community will be known for today. And, if either are adopted, are certain to pave the way for Falmouth’s place in history.
The problem is not as prophetic as the title proclaims. The resulting solutions from the two options, however, could lead directly to residents being “kicked-off” their own private properties and expelled from neighborhoods they’ve come to love and enjoy (voluntarily or involuntarily). All this potentially happening in a place, and under conditions that have seemingly become less neighborly.
I grew up during the McGovern campaign era, I admired Reverent Martin Luther King, read “To Kill A Mocking Bird” in school and watched every Sidney Poitier movie ever made. I grew up having, what I believe, a good social compass and have tried to foster the same in community affairs where I’ve lived. Being aware of injustices, in ones youth, we often think that they always happen someplace else.
The reality of the wind turbine issue in Falmouth, many say, has bee marginalized. Why not talk about the basic effect of what has surrounded the wind turbine problem? Why haven’t we internalized this story into a community’s understanding of what the our town truly should be? Why have we allowed the problem to be packaged into cost or climate “boxes”? Why have we not given merit to this project being a simple mistaken miscalculation, and move forward, accounting for the “basic” rightness of solving the problem? These are the questions I’ve heard asked.
Falmouth’s Wind Turbine saga shares may similarities to our government’s historic callousness dealing with Native Americans. Our local leaders, going back to the country’s founders, have talked bluntly about prying property from residents. Thomas Jefferson, commenting about America’s expansion strategy, basically saying – We want Indian land but they’re not just going to give it to us. So we have to motivate them to sign treaties and get them into debt – . Native Americans, at the time, had come to rely on things they got from white traders (i.e. guns, food, horses,kettles, blankets, traps etc.) Mind you, these traders were espoused to the Jefferson debt policy.
Native Americans were in debt and the government made promises to help them “settle-up” if they sold their lands. Native Americans were urged to come, negotiate in “good faith,” under flags of truce. They were told they’d be protected while differences were settled. From the first officially recorded treaty between the U.S. and Native American governments (1778 treaty with the Delaware) to the last (1904 Turtle Mountain Chippewa Treaty), history books are smeared with broken promises. The sadness so prevalent, Native Americans were guilty of nothing more than wanting to preserve their most basic of human rights. Health and quality of life! Sound familiar?
The Town of Falmouth called for a mock truce between ill residents and turbine operations, and convened a Wind Turbines Option Process (WTOP). The process has offered two options that have been described by come in the area Chamber of Commerce as really really bad Public Relations for Falmouth. The echoing sentiment has been “how does a community encourage people to come to Falmouth if they’re value is cast behind attending to town energy costs and global climate concerns?”
The story will be written. Falmouth may decide to clam-up, hide the nasty little secret. And instead, falsely promote a gauzy, fantastical version of Falmouth being a “green revolution” community with a sense of fiscal stability. Truth be told….
The accurate qualifying truth of Native American history has been profoundly wrong. We often heard in school, Indians didn’t know how to solve conflict other than by fighting. Somehow whites were superior because we used the “word” to solve differences. “We (whites) don’t fight to solve conflict, we use words.” The Indians wanted a fight, so white’s were forced to fight back. Offensive to my Native American friends? Offensive to others?
The debt Falmouth is under is not a material thing. Things relied upon so heavily by Native Americans. The many that accuse that monetary reparations will solve the issue are terribly mistaken. Residents want only to be acknowledged as being make sick by wind turbines too close, and that their illnesses, in the future, be prevented. It has, unfortunately, become a fight. Only so many words can describe the harm. It remains a matter, not of town finance debt or global warming, rather than a matter of basic acceptable health and living conditions for Falmouth residents.
The history of every place is normally more complicated than what we are lead to believe.
Mark J. Cool