So. There are roughly 6 weeks until the group show. Welp.
A couple things.
This semester has gone by so fast, it makes no sense. Where did the time go? I’ve run into a few walls these past few weeks, a lot of personal challenges and then mother nature and I are currently on non-speaking terms. I’ve been trying to get to Washington County or just other counties in PA to just shoot around and meet people but the roads have been so BAD it’s been too dangerous to drive out that way specifically on the weekends. Last Monday after classes I was able to go out there for a short time just to scope out the area. I just started driving towards Washington, PA without any set destination. Washington County is the second most active drilling county in Pennsylvania. According to StateImpact Pennsylvania, there are 1,014 wells in WC. Compared to other counties such as Butler that has 277 wells. I somehow made it into this place called Cecil Township just past Canonsburg. I saw a few signs posted on light posts about leasing land and a few signs in peoples’ yards that said something like “We Support Safe Drilling”. I got one of those feelings driving into that place that I knew I needed to talk to the people that lived there. I plan to go back as soon as I’m able to. This weekend I’m getting together all the work I have so far, and I’m gonna start sequencing for my book. I think this sequencing will help with this constant lost feeling I’m having. I knew this would happen at least all the time when I started this project. It’s such a complex subject that it’s nearly impossible to wrap your brain completely around it. I have no background in geology or engineering or earth science. I have my camera and a passion to understand what impact this has had and is having on our country. That’s what I have and I’m just hoping I can start a different type of dialogue.
I’ve been doing some research on natural gas pipelines and the amount of pipelines that run all across the country. The fact that there is this working network of moving natural gas beneath my feet is unfathomable. Much like the process of hydraulic fracturing. When I tell people what my project is on, they always ask me “Are you for it, or against it?” Ya know when I first heard about fracking, I would’ve told you I was 100% against it. I remember when the Power Shift March happened in Pittsburgh. I was walking to class and saw this gathering happening by the river. I stayed awhile to check things out. Then I read one of the signs that said “Don’t Frack with Our Water” and I thought “Oh my gosh this is on fracking. Why did I not know about this!” Or something along those lines. I started out by shooting the protest, then it turned into marching along with them. The energy this group had harvested was unreal. You couldn’t help but join in on the chanting, the marching, the fight. Even though you didn’t know all the things you were fighting for, it felt good to be a part of something. I hate to admit I was still very ignorant on the subject, but the feeling of being a part of something much larger than myself was the main driver. This was proof that more voices were greater than one. When I took a step back, I realized the foundation of my opinion was based on one source. Although something as empowering as a protest is the result of this, I think it’s so easy to hear something and run with it without any further research. Through the course of a year and a half I place myself in the middle. Through the stories I’ve heard and the research i’ve done, I see that fracking has brought a lot of good things to a lot of good people, and it’s also brought a lot of bad things to a lot of good people. The list of things to consider are endless.
My next goal. Before Spring Break — By next Sunday. I will have contacted more of my sources, did some follow-ups and transcribed all the interviews I’ve had up to date.