In the spring of 2013, the Strike Anywhere Performance Ensemble presented “Same River,” a multimedia exploration of Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing. Bucknell students conducted interviews with Pennsylvania residents whose lives have been directly impacted by fracking. The performance was composed of numerous first-person accounts of the effects of natural gas production. The volume of material presented offered a complex picture of “fracking,” a trend we’ve seen on the rise in Pennsylvania for about a decade. “Same River” seeks to draw connections, to give voice to multiple viewpoints and to acknowledge that we are all downstream, that the earth’s water supply is all the same river. In order to process the performance, individuals were encouraged to share their thoughts at a town-hall style discussion afterwards.
In addition to the theatrical piece, other art forms were created and displayed. Local artist Nancy Cleaver and Bucknell scenographer Elaine Williams lead art-making sessions, with participants creating artwork on the topic, “Clean Water: Who Needs It?”
The “Same River” project was sponsored by the Place Studies Initiative of the Bucknell Environmental Center, as well as the Residential Colleges and the Department of Theatre and Dance.
The “Same River” project and its related activities are sponsored by the Place Studies Initiative of the Bucknell University Environmental Center, the Residential Colleges, and the Department of Theatre and Dance.
During the summer of 2013, I conducted research alongside Associate Professor of Management, Jamie Hendry with support of the Place Studies Initiative. Jamie and I decided to explore a hot topic: fracking. Specifically, we were curious about how landowners weighed the pros and cons of leasing mineral rights. As a student who studies Management and Gender Studies, I was interested in the gender component of how decisions are made.
In order to gain a better understanding of the power dynamics within relationships, I drew on a set of research on family relations. I also consulted a number of sources to learn about the process and history of hydraulic fracturing.
Jamie and I conducted a number of interviews of landowners in Lycoming, Sullivan, Bradford counties; most of the participants were approaching or enjoying retirement, and professionals who are directly or indirectly connected to the gas industry. None of the landowners had a well placed on their property, and most had leased dozens of acres.
There were a number of common themes we uncovered about people’s perception of fracking (when it wasn’t on their land):
Overall positive perceptions of natural gas companies
People see the tangible economic benefits around them
Creation of a new meaning of what land is worth
People who did not lease were depicted as having strong ideologies that prevented them from doing so
People felt that their decision not to lease wouldn’t matter if everyone around them signed a lease
Many expressed an interest in alternative energy sources, once the technology is developed affordably
Landowners who leased feel pride in being an energy provider to their community and country
Traffic was noted to be the most noticable change in regions with heavy fracking
Gender alone did not predict which spouse had more weight in the decision making process. In most relationships, the spouse with more decision making power was the one who was considered to be more of an “expert” on the subject, usually due to their occupation.
Another factor that influenced how couples made decisions was their perception of the purpose of land. Those who believed that land was best in a natural, pristine state had reservations about signing a lease, while those who saw land as an asset that landowners should get the greatest number of benefits from.
Noon Lecture Series: Immigrant Experiences of the Anthracite Coal Region
Tuesday, March 28, noon, Weis Center Atrium Lobby, free
Nicholas Kupensky, former Bucknell visiting professor of comparative humanities, and Bode Morin, site administrator of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum and Iron Furnaces, will discuss ways in which we can discover and share the physical and cultural stories of immigrant hard-coal mining experiences.
Noon Lecture Series: Pennsylvania's Anthracite Coal Region: Present to Future
Thursday, March 30, noon, Weis Center Atrium Lobby, free
Carol Parenzan of the Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association and Maureen Hauck of the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center — both of whom have significant connections to Pennsylvania's anthracite coal region — will discuss present and future prospects for the region.
Noon Lecture Series: The Creation of Anthracite Fields
Friday, March 31, noon, Weis Center Atrium Lobby, free
Professor G.C. Waldrep, English, will interview Julia Wolfe, composer of Anthracite Fields; Laurie McCants, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble and advisor to the project; and Professor Beth Willer, music, who will conduct the upcoming Weis Center performance.
Weis Center Performance: Anthracite Fields
Performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars, featuring Bucknell University Camerata
Saturday, April 1, 7:30 p.m., Weis Center, tickets required
Haunting, poignant and relentlessly physical, Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields is a lovingly detailed oratorio about turn-of-the-20th-century Pennsylvania coal miners, and a fitting recipient of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music.
Adults: $25, Seniors 62+: $20, Youth 18 and Under: $15, Bucknell Employees and Retirees (limit 2): $15, Bucknell Students (limit 2): $10.
The free opening act for Anthracite Fields will feature Jay Smar at 6 p.m. in the Weis Center Atrium Lobby. Jay will serve his audience an "acoustic buffet" of traditional American and original folk, ol' time mountain music, bluegrass and gospel tunes, as well as coal mining songs of Northeast PA.
Read more about Place Meaning. Exploration of the ways in which individuals and communities connect identities to place, and the ways in which places and landscapes are imbued with meaning. Project areas include energy landscapes and place meaning and identity in post-coal communities. Read More...
Read more about Sustainable Places. Engaging with local communities, groups, and leaders to understand changes in localized development and pathways to more sustainable communities. Projects explore the ways in which communities pursue economic, social, environmental, and cultural sustainability. Read More...