Winneshiek and Allamakee counties in Iowa have enacted moratoriums on frac sand mining, which allow us a little over a year (as of this writing) to research how it might affect our water, our air quality, our roads, our landscape and our community.

Notice how often the word "our" showed up in that sentence? We, the people of the driftless region, will talk together at public meetings, consider the research as it comes in, discuss the possibilities and problems we see involved with frac sand mining, and sit around our kitchen tables wondering how we can protect ourselves. We might think that regulations will rein in the process. Somehow then we'd have to trust that regulatory agencies can control the process - which allows frac sand mining to proceed.

As things stand, in our current system of governmental watch, we can put a framework around "legally permitted activities" that is implemented and monitored by agencies that were created to allow big business to conduct their business without having to be bothered by cranky town folk who don't like breathing silica dust, or trying to get out of their driveways between semi trailers. Regulation means allowing. Perhaps allowing with guidelines (that are difficult and impractical to enforce) but still, it means that the activity will be allowed.

On the other hand, if all that studying and collating information and talking around the table leads us to thinking that we'd like to have a stronger say in what goes on in our area - to our land, water, and children - then we may agree we'd like to ban frac sand mining altogether in Winneshiek County. We could take the power of our Constitution's original intent back into our own hands, and place them on the steering wheel. Corporate personhood is not the same as yours or mine. Not as concerned about our neighborhoods, not as apt to drop by with a casserole or brownies, and not nearly as much fun to hang out with.

The Community Rights Alliance is working to bring rights back to the real people of Winneshiek County and deny personhood to corporations by reasserting our democratic rights and responsibilities to decide for ourselves, as a community, how we want to allocate (or not), and save and utilize our shared resources. And that's how we can ban frac sand mining here on our turf. A corporation won't wave to us as they drive out of town with our natural resources in the back of their truck. Let's waive their right to personhood in Winneshiek County.

I hope to see you at Paul Cienfuego's free talk "Our Government Institutions Don't Serve Us - By Design" Thursday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. at Decorah Elks Club, 204 W Main St (email questions to communityrightsalliance@gmail.com)

Or at his workshop entitled "Becoming We The People," Sept. 27 to 29, in Decorah, at the United Congregational Center, 209 W Broadway.

Or at Democracy School_Friday, Nov. 1, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 2, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. http://democracyschooldecorah.weebly.com/

Heidi Olstad