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The risks of ripping out the roots

I reside in central Virginia, where I’m raising three sons with firm Ohio roots. I’ve had my eye and ear on the wind turbine projects for some time and was actually, initially, for the idea! In fact, the company trying to move their skyscrapers into Seneca County is based out of the town we currently call home. What a kick in the gut.

If I live so far away, why do I care? Why is this important to me? Why does the idea of this coming to fruition pain me to the marrow of my bones? Roots.

The only home I ever knew my dad built with his own hands at the age of 24. He worked hard, saved his money and bought the most beautiful farm down the road from “The Homestead,” where my grandparents raised their four children. Under the paint on the red barn, which he also built by hand, lives his writing “J + S = ??” … the young dreaming of the little feet that would soon chase and play and learn on the fruits of his labor.

My family landed in Ohio after coming to the U..S for a better life and bigger promises six generations ago. We have always been farmers, artists of the land, stubborn and determined. Craving the sight of wheat blowing in the wind while the golden sun sets on its dancing whiskers is in my DNA, and my sons beam with delight and a quiet comfort at the foot of a large green field. They, like their ancestors, are their best selves with their hands in the dirt. My hope is that our jobs will lead us back. My hope is that at least one of my sons will return to our farm for good one day. My hope is to spend my retirement in a rocking chair on the front porch with my own grandbabies to enjoy the crisp fields and perfect view without shadow flicker and spinning metal forcing us inside.

Eden Township is my home and long before these projects were ever known to be a possibility, I would regularly say, “I will let NYC build up around that farm before I’d ever let anything happen to it.” And here we are. I never thought the landscape that is burned into my memory could be at risk. The soil, the water, the ecosystem, those among us battling mental health or epilepsy are all under attack. My family collectively refused to sign on the dotted line when the opportunity presented itself because we love this land, this community and our neighbors too much. This will not be a problem that will go away or that we can ignore. Only one building in Columbus is taller than these will be; they will literally be standing and spinning over us 24/7.

Those opposed to the turbines are your farmers, your neighbors, your friends and our hearts are bleeding. I am incredibly for clean/green energy but when you dive into the documents outlining the proposed projects, they are extremely flawed with dubious fine print. We have begged commissioners Holly Stacy and Shayne Thomas to review tireless research and go back to the drawing board to preserve our community, but it’s fallen on deaf ears.

I work for a major worldwide company on their field sales team. During our quarterly meetings, we are often challenged to spontaneously “sell” our favorite vacation to the others in the room without revealing the location until the audience votes at the end. To no surprise to those who know me well, I choose Tiffin, Ohio, and begin my pitch. I choose my hometown and sell it not only for the local pizza, ice cream and potato chips, but mostly for the warmth of the people and beauty of the landscape. I often tell people that going home is “like putting a sponge back in water.”

I didn’t see it until I stepped outside and took my blinders off. Tiffin, Ohio, isn’t the norm. Small schools, historic buildings at every turn, flat sprawling landscape, authentic amazing people with long, storied tradition rooted firmly in this space. Rarely will you ever find another town who gives a police escort to the band and cheerleaders on the way to their home football game (go, Senecas). This place is unique and special and I’m so fearful that people aren’t going to see it for what it is until the industrial wind turbine train runs us all over.

We are at a fork in the road. We will either see the people of Seneca County be heard and we will continue to benefit from future generations taking over the work of their elders or we will see impossible conditions, decreased land values, and hostility brew and take over like poison.

Warmly and worriedly,

Anna (Feasel) Brooks,

Zion Crossroads, Virginia