Propagandist is, we believe, the correct term. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) call it a Public Information Officer, apparently. That is who greeted us Tuesday night in the form of a lady named Marta.
We heard on our arrival that there might be such a figure representing PSE but our immediate attention went to the fact they had sealed off the public sidewalk. The police had stated that if anyone was to pass the line, they would be arrested. When we spoke to an officer he explained that the Public Works Department of Fife had declared the entire street a construction zone. That’s when he introduced us to Marta.
The first exchange was telling. “Hey, Dakota!” was her greeting as she walked up to Dakota Case and I. Dakota, of the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, has featured heavily in our coverage so far and it’s not a huge surprise that they knew who he was. “Oh, you know who I am?” Dakota laughed. Marta replied, “I have the advantage.”
What followed was a series of smug questions directed at us, like “Do you use gas at home?” Neither of us did. When we asked Marta questions, using the science, she responded, “Yeah, Steve is interesting.” She was, of course, referring to Steve Storms, a retired Chemical Engineer.
Prayer, Song and the Creator
So with the presence of Marta not withstanding, we started our prayer march. The now familiar sound of drum and song filled the air on a very warm Fife evening. We made our presence known and found humor at the sight of several police vehicles following us up the road. Armed only with Drums, Sage, and Faith. Oh and Facts. That’s the one they don’t like.
Local residents came out to speak to us and to express their unease with the project. We heard stories about the noise and how short the notice period was. We spoke with one lady who had seen cracks in her foundation since the drilling started, Marta told her to ’email me.’ We also spoke with gentlemen who have an artesian well that runs adjacent to the pipeline site. He was concerned about the chemical they were putting into the pipe shaft to strengthen it leaking into his water table.
The police again formed a defensive line. This time to protect the Brotherton Pipeline Command Center, which looked more suited to a Star Wars movie than a Fife back road. Benita, who had been carrying a sage stick during the march, thought to offer the officers a chance to brush off. She hoped it would stay lit as she had been struggling to keep it burning for the past hour. The officers declined the offer.
The Creator, it seems, didn’t quite agree with that answer. Without warning the sage stick burst into flames, smoke filled the air and covered the officers in a thick blanket of sage smoke. There, everyone is smudged now.
Marta and Steve
As we finished the evening, Marta was addressing the group. You can watch most of that interaction in our video below but by far the funniest moment was when she again mentioned Steve Storms. We urge you to watch the bottom video to see that particular interaction.