BELLA ROMERO : Words from the Front Line                                    

By Shirley Smithson: resident of Bella Community

I was asked to write a bit from my perspective on the proposed 24 well pads and industrial additions on the site near Bella Romero School in Greeley, Colorado.  I am going to let go of the facts, the legal points, the politics and move into the truth of what it feels like to be here, as the process and unfolding events of this story take place.

A week ago I received a phone call at 7:00 am from my brother.  His words were, “We are surrounded by fire, all of the roads are closed and there is no way out.” He and his family live in Santa Rosa, California.  They were in the center of the North Bay fires. Brazen, ruthless blazes created by nature and ignited by climate change displaced 30,000 people, took 40 or more lives and stopped all daily life for days.  His words stopped me towards his and his family’s well-being. Nothing else mattered.

Those of us in the Vetting well site area are surrounded by more subtle but ruthless fires.  There is no listening, no foresight, no concern or care for individuals or life.  There are those who are blindly moving forward on the freeways of greed, over-consumption and the shrouds of deceit. Their decisions are allowing industrial gas and oil projects near schools and communities, without a glance towards health and safety. They have closed their eyes to the true dangers and their hearts to true concern.  We are in the front lines of a human rights crises, an environmental crises and simply totally devalued. The response is one of grief. “We can do nothing”, anger, depression, denial, flight, fight, overwhelm: we are dealing with death on many levels. If invaded all will be changed for the worse, left broken. There is no reasonable exchange. Money is nothing.

My community, the Bella Romero community, is a tapestry. There are 500 school children, with their parents, teachers and families. They are vulnerable, linguistically isolated, working class and immigrant. They are primarily people of color.  There are farmers and folks who love the land and countryside, who are here to love their animals, who have been here for life times. There are 90 year old fathers with sons and daughters who will be faced with looking out of their windows at a wall and breathing toxic air.  There are children who live and visit grandparents in homes closer in proximity to the site than the playing fields. There are young, old, professionals and working class. We are multi ethnic and individuals .  We are a community of people who matter.  Every life matters.  “We are surrounded by fire. All of the roads are closed and there is no way out.”  Except for the awareness, voice, heart and action of others, “the fire fighters”, who can stop the spread of relentless destruction.

Registration for the Tour de Frack will be available soon!  Meanwhile keep this date on your calendar.

WHEN : Saturday, Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. -2 p.m.

WHERE:  Greeley (Details to be sent out after registration)