The Good Life

Welcome to the Good Life!

I’m a lifelong Nebraskan. I was born in Omaha, Nebraska 22 years ago, and although I was swept away to the East Coast for school and sustainable farming opportunities in the past few years, my heart still bleeds bright Cornhusker red. I’ve been in love with my home state for as long as I can remember (in love enough to recently get the outline of my Midwestern home state tattooed on my back…yeah…I’m not kidding!)

In the summer of 2010, a few friends and I started the organization Guardians of the Good Life (GOTGL), a home-grown, grassroots group of activists and clean energy economy  radicals in the urban center of Nebraska, Omaha. An eclectic group of people, GOTGL, admittedly a cheesy name for such a fantastic organization ( “the Good Life” being Nebraska’s unofficial state motto), is made up of urban eco-activists of all walks of life. Formed under the core beliefs that urban Nebraskans have a vested interest in protecting our state from the dangerous Keystone XL Pipeline, Guardians of the Good Life has continuously kicked out creative and engaging campaigns to stop the tar sands from ever entering out state…and for that matter, ever leaving their dirty home in Alberta.

Sadly, not living in Nebraska anymore, I have not been able to participate in the Guardians activities since last summer. However, as a large group of Nebraskans were arrested today in front of the White House today and as I prepare to risk arrest next week, I felt it necessary to write about the activities and interests of urban Nebraskans fighting the pipeline. Last August, the Guardians hosted a Week of Action against the pipeline, including educational lectures, street demonstrations, a “tar sands lemonade stand” tasting, and culminating in a 100 person “Human Oil Spill” flash mob and banner drop over Omaha’s most busy thoroughfare during rush hour. Continue reading ‘The Good Life’

It’s Hard to Husk Corn with Oil in the Soil

Part of a three part series on the Keystone XL Pipeline and Nebraska

Hopefully by now you’ve heard of the Keystone XL Pipeline (also known as the Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion), a tar sands pipeline proposed by Canadian company TransCanada that would bring Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta through Saskatchewan before entering Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma before ending up at its final destinations in Port Arthur and Houston, Texas.

While there are many non-profits, environmental and tribal groups currently fighting this pipeline, this first post of a three part series will focus on the largest issue threatening Nebraska, my home state. This is not to skirt over the horrible effects (dirty extraction, threats to tribal lands/water, a furthered dependence on fossil fuels and insanely large contributions to global climate change) that the pipeline will have on the other impacted areas in Canada and the United States, but Nebraska has a lot to lose from this pipeline being installed, and a lot to gain from fighting it.  So, lets jump in.

Often in fights for environmental and climate justice, the realms of economy and environment are separated and exclusive. However, in Nebraska, OUR ENVIRONMENT IS OUR ECONOMY. Nebraska is an agricultural state first and foremost. Our economy is not as diverse as states like California because the large majority of our state is agricultural land and regardless of some of the potentially negative aspects of our agricultural economy (mono-cropping, GMO crops etc), this is how we exist. Without a pristine natural environment, our crops can’t grow…and what would a world without the famous Nebraska sweet corn be like?

And the Cornhusker state’s agro-economy can’t survive without water.

Continue reading ‘It’s Hard to Husk Corn with Oil in the Soil’

System Change, Not Climate Change!

After being in Copenhagen for five days now, there are some thoughts running through my head that I’d like to express and share with y’all. This is going to be short, and probably not all that eloquent, but it will help me get some points across that I think are really important at this critical moment in the fight for our climate. I do want to say that while this post is critical of the way things are happening at COP15, I still deeply respect the youth of all delegations who are inside this conference, trying to scrap out a decent deal for the world. I thank them for all their efforts, but am coming from a different perspective here.

I came to Copenhagen hesitant and nervous….not wanting to place too much hope into the talks that had effectively been castrated by the UNFCCC leadership and Yvo de Boer. But I still wanted to be here all the same; after all, it’s supposedly the climate party of the century! So I hooked up with some French activists and an amazing organization called Climate Justice Action and planned on doing all that I could during the two weeks of the conference. I wanted to rally, protest, take part in negotiations, have my voice heard and above all- help bring a fair, ambitious and binding treaty out of Copenhagen.  But upon arriving in Denmark, I  entered a catatonic state of dumbfoundedness…having finally come to the realization, like so many others (James Hansen, Breakthrough Institute etc), that these talks were doomed to fail and there was nothing anyone could do about it. As quickly as it had come, my dream of that fair, ambitious and binding treaty that we’ve all been working towards disappeared in a smoggy cloud of yen, dollars, euros and political and moral weakness.

Continue reading ‘System Change, Not Climate Change!’

Creating the Space for Solutions

This post is from the Summer of Solutions Omaha organizer Lance Brisbois. Cross posted here!

This summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the Omaha Summer of Solutions program. The Summer of Solutions began in the summer of 2008 in St. Paul, Minnesota by an ambitious group of student environmental activists. Being from the greater Omaha area, I decided that I would love to get involved with something like that in Omaha for summer 2009. Planning began many months in advance and became a very inclusive process with anyone who wanted to help out…either from a distance or on the ground. Dozens of people expressed interest in the program. The possibilities seemed endless—we could work on energy efficiency, clean energy, transportation, local food, building community, and myriad other sustainability-based initiatives.

Continue reading ‘Creating the Space for Solutions’

The Only Thing That Could Have Happened…

Almost 3 months to the day since I arrived back home in Omaha, NE from school out East and started working on the Omaha Summer of Solutions with my great friends Lance, Tyler and Matt. I was a wide eyed visionary, believing I would change the face of my fair city with my bold and organized climate activism. I believed I would engage hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens and neighbors, empower them to create real climate solutions and establish a kick ass organization that would have me leaving the summer wiping my hands on my jeans, brushing my shoulders off and whistling dixie at having solved climate issues in Omaha. I expected to hop on a plane to head back east at the end of the summer and see solar panels on every roof, smile at the wind turbine production factory in low income North Omaha and notice waves of native prairie grass being grown for sustainable bio-fuel production. In short, I expected to make the sort of drastic changes that usually take years if not decades.

Needless to say this didn’t happen. But a lot of things did happen. Continue reading ‘The Only Thing That Could Have Happened…’


I'm a young person from the Heartland: Omaha, NE but am currently studying in rural southern Maryland. I really love grapefruits, strong coffee, sharing food and solutionary organizing!

Community Picks