Memo to the VA

In addition to the August 28th post, I’ve prepared 5 other opinion pieces during the past year in which the work has unfolded to save the 15-acre heart of the Crown Hill north woods. I’ll post these windy pieces which I hope have helped to educate and persuade our policy-makers to reconsider the destruction of the woods.   


Memo (9-10-16) to the Department of Veterans Affairs:  Destroying the Crown Hill woodland is not creation of beauty— it’s the destruction of Creation

“..the human response to grief is creation, often the creation of beauty.  “We have art” philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “in order not to die of the truth”.  After a friend dies, there is a compassionate letter written, a casserole made, a coffin crafted from cherry wood, a tree planted.”… And humans sometimes respond to grief by turning to the comfort and reassurance of the natural world: its peace:  the steady surge and flow of the sea on sand, water slipping over stones.  Sorrow is part of the Earth’s great cycles, the surge from living to dying to life again.  Maybe this is why grief can make a deeper connection to the currents of life and so connect, somehow, to sources of solace and courage.’

Kathleen Dean Moore, Great Tide Rising—Towards Clarity and Moral Courage in a Time of Planetary Change, 2016  p. 221

Cutting down a pre-settlement remnant forest habitat (the Creation) and replacing it with hardscape is not “the creation of beauty”, rather its antithesis.   Nor is it a way to gain comfort from grief by having the opportunity to connect with Nature.  A new cemetery on the selected site would all but destroy the natural attributes and appeal of the area.

While removal of the woodland would not assuage (but arguably exacerbate) the grief of loss of loved ones or fallen warriors, it would cause great grief and sense of loss (and actual physical loss) to the community.

Ms. Moore’s book is focused on climate change which is rapidly and significantly disrupting climate, weather patterns, oceans, and habitats worldwide.  Yet the Veterans Affairs Department’s two supposedly justifying documents (the Environmental Assessment and the Finding of No Significant Impact) are silent on climate change (deforestation is among the contributing causes of global warming and the looming global climate crisis).

It’s sadly ironic that the continuing “death by a thousand cuts” to the greenscape of Indianapolis, and to the worldwide climate via global warming, is being driven by the VA’s desire to create columbaria buildings for the cremated remains of military veterans.

As environmental writer Dr. Barry Sanders reminds us in The Green Zone—The Environmental Costs of Militarism, 2009, “.. the most obvious point, one to which thousands of scientists worldwide call our attention: the threat is not to the survival of the economy.  It is to the survival of the planet itself.  I am reminded here of Pogo’s famous line: ‘We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Clarke Kahlo





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