September 2014 Harvest of Hope in Neleigh, Nebraska

photo (2)September, 2014, Harvest of Hope Concert in Neleigh, NE
(photographer Shirley Butz)

When Nebraskans want to party, we gather by the thousands in the sage green sand hills, set-up camp chairs in a cornfield and sing, dance, chat with people of like minds, and feel the freedom of a “don’t fence me in” place on the planet. I am reveling in the memories of the 8,000 men, women, children who gathered in a cornfield in the Nebraska sand hills to demonstrate our opposition to the Keystone pipeline. The occasion presented an opportunity to party meaning food, music, song, dance, t-shirt and posters sales, and cheer and good will.
Harvest The Hope (photographer Scott Rager)

Jane, Kleeb, the queen mother of all organizers, Willie Nelson, singer-song writer and Farm-Aid organizer, Neil Young , Canadian singer-song writer and environmentalist, and Dakota, Lakota, Nkota, Ponca tribal leaders spoke at the gathering and offered their insights into the issue of mining Canadian tar sands and shipping them via pipe line through the Nebraska sand hills and across the High Plains aquifer.
NOKXL crowd4(photographer Scott Rager)

Portions of the crowd expressed opposition to mining the tar fields in Canada in light of releasing carbon into our atmosphere and spoiling huge tracts of the arboreal forests. Others were opposed to the U.S. A. allowing a foreign government, Canada to employ imminent domain to access the pathway of the Keystone pipeline across property in Nebraska. Others stood up to protect the High Plains aquifer from potential chemical spills, and some to deny Corporate America and Corporate Canada’s exploitation of a fragile eco-system.
NOKXL Neil7 (photographer Scott Rager)

I sang along with familiar and ever popular tunes by Willie Nelson and Neil Young. Their music seemed to echo this day on the planet, the splendor of these hills, and our responsibility to care. The words recalled the reasons I returned to my prairie home in Nebraska. The audience swayed to the beat of the drums under a shining blue sky, sipping draughts of air purified by the big bluestem grasses, and cooled by prairie breezes. The pale green prairie grasses and faded fields of corn and soybeans calmed my busy mind and anxious thoughts. The swell of the music and the sweetness of the moment attuned me to the potential of the human spirit and the power of people to stand up to corporate America and be heard.
NOKXL crowd7 (photographer Scott Rager)

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