When Rev. Shodo Spring organized a vigil in Northfield on Monday night as part of a national effort to stop the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline, she did it with one thing in mind: send a message to President Barack Obama that it doesn’t belong.
More than 50 people converged on Bridge Square on a brisk evening to show their support of a call taken up by thousands of people nationwide. For Spring, the vigil just kind of took off.
“I sent a few emails and spoke to a few people and then it was word of mouth,” Spring said. “I expect big numbers in larger cities, but we’re Northfield and we had 50 people. It was great.”
In 2011, the Northfield resident and Zen priest attended a monastic retreat where she had a vision. She imagined a group of people walking along the Keystone XL Pipeline route, which is 1,179 miles total.
In 2012, that become reality. Dubbed the Compassionate Earth Walk, Spring led a group of volunteers along the pipeline route to raise awareness of the negative human impact on the environment. The walk started in Hardisty, Alberta, where the Keystone XL Pipeline would begin, and ended in Steele City, Neb.
On Monday, she rallied young and old together in Northfield as a show of force in the battle to stop the pipeline, which has been in the planning stages for five years.
“It’s not just don’t do this pipeline, it’s shut it down and leave the fossil fuels in the ground or we will all die,” she said.
Others on hand believe the pipeline will put an undo burden on the environment, because according to the 350.org, a site dedicated to stop the pipeline, Keystone XL would carry 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil across the United States to be refined, exported and burned. Tar sands oil has a massive carbon footprint — sometimes requiring more energy to produce than it creates — and Keystone XL is the key to making burning that oil economically feasible, according to the site.
“I believe we need to be engaged in the democratic process to help make things better for future generations. That’s why I’m here,” said Jon Frasz, a Northfielder who held a sign during the vigil protesting the pipeline. “There are more important things than money and the safety of our children, our grandchildren and their children is a big one.”
Shodo says she will send photographs of the assembled Northfielders to the Obama administration, as well as John Kline and Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, to show their resolve.
“He [Obama] has 90 days to make his decision about the pipeline and we want him to know it is dangerous and that it doesn’t belong on our soil,” she said.
Reach Managing Editor Jerry Smith at 645-1136, or follow him on Twitter.com @NewsNorthfield