Natural Gas Extraction Meeting: September 19, 2008

First, for those following this discussion, here is a good background site to peruse:

Kevin Lewis’s article on (non-hysterical) environmental hazards of gas drilling

Now, the notes (with a big thanks to Labangalatika dd, clearly the best of the notetakers):

Attendance for the September 19 meeting was notably lower.  The meeting was not broadly announced, and it was suspected that this was at least partly why attendance was low.  The meeting began informally, and discussion picked up as participants began to trickle in.  The following issues were discussed:

Making New Vrindaban a self-sufficient community

  • Need for financing; use of natural gas as an incremental step (better than what we are doing now or are likely to do otherwise)
  • Pursue paths to self-sufficiency that do not involve gas-drilling income or use of natural gas – increasing fertility of soil, use of animal power, wood for fuel (also adopting simpler lifestyle, as was done previously at NV)
  • Solar panels (although this region is second worst in US for solar viability)
  • Retrofit facilities to eco-green standards
  • Teach others self-sufficient culture so they can take the mission into the future
  • Need to be able to produce all our own bhoga

Impact of drilling

  • Environmental – what would it be; how could we prevent or minimize dire effects – pursue this legally and politically
  • Need for research – sound, unbiased information (perhaps even pay for someone outside of community to do this) – Marcellus shale process is still quite new
  • Business aspect needs to be considered/researched also – no precedent set with gas company negotiations

Public reception and opinion

  • Attractiveness of New Vrindaban if it can become self-sufficient
    • (For drilling) Steps in direction toward self-sufficiency – use of (domestic) natural gas instead of (foreign) oil
    • (Against drilling) Purity, integrity, natural/simple lifestyle – honoring what we preach can attract support
  • Preaching as our prime mission – self-sufficiency and progressive movement attractive to American public in particular; NV’s best preaching point – environmental outreach
  • Americans could go either way, depending on whether they view natural gas development as progressive or a sell-out
  • Most of the younger people will be against drilling (many also see foam plates, gas-run vehicles, etc as part of the problem)
  • Stimulating or alienating donor base
    • How will our position be received if we go ahead with drilling – poorly, if not seen as consonant with SP’s mission for NV; favorably, if seen as a step forward from the present situation and if progress is seen
    • If we say no to drilling, might be seen favorably by non-devotees as well as devotees
    • Perception of what NV is about; our proper understanding of what NV’s purpose is (beacon to attract others to KC, model of self-sufficient community, inspiration for devotees, tourism, source for donor income?)
    • Present donor base is into Deity worship, not self-sufficiency

Consciousness, mood and capability in New Vrindaban community

  • How would drilling income be managed
  • Can skill sets and physical capabilities lie in our community translate into self-sufficiency (younger are techno-conditioned, elders losing physical vitality)
  • Will influx of money translate into stronger KC mood and lifestyle?
  • Only thing that works in NV is cooperation and adherence to core principles – this is not a place to make money

Need and use for money

  • Devotees needing supplemental income now, regardless of consciousness (even those who are farming)
  • Need money to build agricultural base
  • Could preach and bring in donation on basis of ‘no’ answer
  • Could say ‘yes’, get seed money for trust, have donors contribute to trust funds – ask for capital donations, not for operational expenses (but considering track record, will capital funds end up being used as operational funds?)
  • Proper use of the money could offset karma – we must ensure that money is used properly and directed toward our ideal

NV perception

  • How meetings are being conducted -facilitated but not controlled; information must be gathered and presented
  • Guru, sadhu and sastra and time, place and circumstance
    • Seek advice of advanced devotees – sadhu gives siddhanta, but doesn’t tell you what to do (ex, Varsana Maharaja)
    • SP made adjustments – but do we neophytes have the purity to make the same type of decision? – we have to make the decision
  • What if we decide in favor of the drilling and half the community leaves
  • “Drug user” analogy: going from user to dealer (with gas drilling), or from heroin to methadone (natural gas instead of oil) (and would we ever get off the methadone)?
  • Many private property owners need money, are going to go for opportunity
  • Opportunity to foster community spirit, participation
  • If things stay the same, no impetus to change

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