Too often we hear about protests, whether it’s the anti-fracing ring or another party expressing opposition to plans or actions taken by oil companies.
Rarely do we hear stories about the positive interactions between companies and communities.
One good example happened near Edmonton, Canada, where one company returned a smile to an 83-year-old woman’s face and assured gardeners that a summer’s worth of work wouldn’t be destroyed.
Plains Midstream Canada plans to construct a pipeline near north Edmonton, but the company opted to postpone its work in the area until Oct. 1, according to The Canadian Press. The pipeline would have destroyed about a third of the work of a group of gardeners who started the garden about 20 years ago to help low-income, immigrant families grow food. The bounty also supplies produce to churches and the Edmonton Food Bank.
With bulldozers set to plow through the garden, dozens turned out to salvage some of the vegetables; however, Francisco Huezo reportedly said he learned the company decided to delay the work that night.
The Canadian Press reported pipeline construction is expected to be finished early next year, enabling the garden to be planted again in the spring. Once the pipe is buried, Plains Midstream agreed to clean the site and replace the topsoil.
The news made Huezo’s mother, 83, smile again after having spent days crying. “It’s the story everybody likes to hear,” Huezo said.
It is indeed. And it shows that companies and the communities in which they work can be good neighbors. It is possible for the two to coexist. However, communication and transparency are necessary, or the relationship can take a turn for the worse before it even has a chance to form.
Frank Maines hit the nail on the head when he wrote “People have to meet somewhere in the middle.” Now, his story stems from Cayuta, NY. In a guest blog for Energy In Depth, Maines chronicled his story of encountering out-of-towners showing up to protest and the impact he believes natural gas development can have on his community.
He determined that he was one of the “silent majority” who welcome gas companies and their money to the area.
“Even if I was against natural gas development, people have to meet somewhere in the middle, but there doesn’t seem to be any spirit of compromise from the other side. We can’t keep depending on other countries for energy when we’re sitting on it right here,” he wrote. “It’s crazy not to develop what we have. I’m 100% for this coming to my area. You can say all you want about the bad things but they’re few and far between, if any. I believe 75% of the population in this area feel the way I do – they just aren’t out making a lot of noise.”
He wrote about how the winter months outnumber the months of good weather to attract tourists to the Watkins Glen area, and how businesses don’t thrive during that time. He wrote of abandoned farms and poverty. Then, he chided the protesters for coming into the town where he lived, trying to interfere with his property rights.
Oftentimes, it is the loud protestors whose voices are heard. But they don’t always represent the majority, as Maines pointed out.
Some people see the benefits of such developments and have found middle grounds.
Contact the author, Velda Addison, at email@example.com.
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