How pipelines became personal

I’ll be honest. Before I began researching for this class, I didn’t really care about pipelines. I knew that pipelines were a problem for the communities they affected, but it never impacted me personally.

That all changed when I started researching pipelines for this class. In my time working through my project for this class, I have not only exponentially increased my knowledge on pipelines, but i’ve also heard personal stories about what the Nexus pipeline has done to the families and people personally affected by it, which is something I wasn’t privy to before.

On Sept. 27, Anna Huntsman and I piled into Laina Yost’s blue Ford Focus and drove to Jon Strong’s house in Medina. As someone who has lived in cities for my whole life, i’ve never been on for “country living.” Jon Strong lived in the country. As I stared out the window on our drive there, I watched the city life of Kent disappear into the vast countryside. As we pulled into Jon’s long gravel driveway, I wondered what I got myself into.

90 minutes later, I found out exactly what I had gotten into. Jon took us into his backyard, talking passionately the whole way. We walked through the woods behind his house, down a path in the trees clearly made with care. We walked in the now empty field behind his house, the trees and plants gone due to Nexus’ construction. He showed us the pipeline, told us the stories how he sat out there during the construction, talking to the workers, bragging about how quickly they built the pipeline because of his presence.

While I didn’t agree with everything Jon said, his passion towards the subject motivated me in my reporting. He could have easily just laid down and died, overwhelmed by the notion of fighting a national company. Instead, he rallied behind his ideals, not accepting no for an answer until it was literally brought to him.

When thinking about having a pipeline in the past, I thought about it in this mystical sense. Jon let us know the dangers of them.

“So what we have is somebody forcing me to give up my property, forcing me to live next to something that could potentially kill me,” Jon said, standing over the pipeline. “So they’re basically, you know, pushing me into harms way so to speak.”

Jon’s sentiments were echoed by Green city councilman Stephen Dyer. Laina and I met him at a Panera in Green, and the passion in his voice was evident, as there was more than one occasion where the volume of his voice brought attention to our table.

Dyer was one of the three people who voted to now have Nexus go through Green. There were four people who voted for it.

“My son has played on baseball fields that are now in the blast zone,” Dyer said. “I’m not so excited about him playing baseball anymore.”

I understand why pipelines exist. Natural gas is becoming more and more crucial to our everyday life, meaning that we need to find ways to get it across the country fast and efficient.

That being said, I’m not sold on the perceived safety of a pipeline.

As we left Jon’s house, I drifted off in the back on Laina’s car, waking up as we pulled back into Kent. Laina dropped me off and I walked back into my apartment, ready to go about my life as normal.

For Jon, I don’t know if life will ever been the same.

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