Michigan Black Gold (Season Finale)

Michigan Black Gold (Season Finale)

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Image courtesy of Mia Risberg

In September of 2013 (just as the ’13-’14 season of It’s Hot In Here was kicking off) Traverse City-based oil and gas company West Bay Exploration performed seismic tests west of Ann Arbor to map out potential sites for oil extraction. Eight months later, 300 people stood side by side to partake in an informational forum on oil exploration in Scio Township.  As West Bay actively seeks out the necessary mineral leases from Scio homeowners in order to drill, concerned residents are uniting to learn about oil leasing and empower fellow homeowners to fully explore their options before turning over drilling rights to the company.

Laura Robinson and Nate Jordan, two members of one such grassroots group, Citizens for Oil Free Backyards, speak to Rebecca Hardin about their efforts to educate and empower their neighbors to be the ultimate decision makers about whether or not drilling should take place in Scio. We would like to thank Ann Arbor resident Mia Risberg for bringing this issue to our attention while she was working to design a logo for the group. As always, our  talk show emerges from and celebrates our local roots, while also offering news coverage of transnational conflicts and solutions in environmental arenas. For those interested in parallels between the oil politics here at home, and those in Ogoniland, Nigeria, tune into our show with former activist now anthropologist Omolade Adunbi, who teaches on these topics right here in Ann Arbor.

Recognizing the importance of local empowerment and collaborative environmental management, the It’s Hot In Here team is happy to end the season with this important conversation. We also want to take this opportunity to thank all of our listeners, guests, and supporters for another wonderful year of environmental news, views, and stone cold grooves.

As we close out this season, we mark the departure and contributions of our engineer/DJ Gus Turner, who will be moving on to New York City this summer, and who created the soundtrack for today’s oil talk with everything from Midnight Oil’s “Beds are Burning” to Dr. John’s “Black Gold,” and the classic Marvin Gaye “Mercy Mercy Me.” Gus, stream us, and don’t forget to let us know where we can stream you in future, too!

Another departure of note is that of one of our co-founders Jennifer Johnson, who will be moving on to New Haven, Connecticut, this summer, to continue her research and writing about Lake Victoria in Uganda under the auspices of the Yale University Agrarian Studies Program. Jennifer is currently in the Johannesburg area exploring research themes in transnational Digital Humanities that we expect will bring her back to A2 next year to shepherd these issues forward on our campus, in partnership with the University of Witswatersrand in South Africa. This amplifies our international reach, without relinquishing a solid emphasis on the talents and challenges right here in our own backyards.

You can learn more about these members of our great big IHIH family on our website; why not join the family yourself? We are growing and opportunities abound.

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